FoxSports.com has reported that the Baltimore Orioles and Adam Jones are close to completing the largest extension in team history, but this signing means much more because they are not simply locking up a great player but making a commitment to winning.
There really hasn't been that much excitement around the Orioles over the past 14 years, with the exception of a few months in 2005 and a walk-off win last September.
Right now though, the O's are good. They are also young and, most importantly, they are here to stay.
J.J. Hardy is 29 and locked up through 2014; Matt Wieters is 26 and in Baltimore till 2016; Nick Markakis is 28 and will be with the O's till 2016; Nolan Reimold is 28 and is under team control until 2016; Chris Davis is 26 and he will be here until 2016; and now Jones, 26, will be leading this group of young players for years to come.
There are more young pieces in place on the mound as well. Wei-Yin Chen looks good, and the 26-year-old will be in Baltimore through 2015. Brian Matusz has turned a corner after struggling last season and at the start this year, and the 25-year-old will be with the O's until 2016. Jake Arrieta is 26 and can't be a free agent until 2017. Bullpen aces Jim Johnson and Pedro Strop are 29 and 27, respectively, and Johnson can't leave until 2015 with Strop here until 2018. Zach Britton is 24 and also can't leave until 2018.
Dan Duquette, Buck Showalter and Orioles management see this influx of young talent and realize that the time to commit to winning is now, and the evidence is conclusive.
The Jones contract shows that the O's see the foundation of this team and that they are committed to winning.
This contract lets Orioles fans know that the O's will no longer just trade their stars or let them walk Mike Mussina style as the players approach free agency.
So don't worry, O's fans. If Wieters stays healthy long enough, he will get paid, and the same goes for all of the young players the Orioles have collected over the past few seasons.
Another development in the Orioles' front office commitment to winning now is the O's move to land Roy Oswalt. Duquette is doing everything he can to improve the O's now without letting go of top-tier talent in the farm system.
With fantastic players locked in for years and top prospects Dylan Bundy, Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop and Xavier Avery set to make a difference soon, if not already, for the O's, the team seems to be heading in the right direction.
By the Orioles signing Jones, they are saying that they will reward the players who commit to making this team better, and by going after Oswalt, they are making it clear they will do anything possible to improve this ballclub.
That is refreshing when one considers how much disdain O's fans have for management after the past 14 seasons, and maybe these recent developments can be the first steps in the right direction.
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