One of the best players in baseball at the turn of the century, 38-year-old Andruw Jones hasn’t played in a Major League game since October 3, 2012.
Three years later, Jones still hasn’t retired. However, this isn’t a Bernie Williams-esque scenario — The Curaco Kid is still very much an active player. Jones spent 2013 and 2014 in Japan with the Rakuten Golden Eagles, and this year he returned to America hoping that a Major League team would take a chance on the five-time All-Star.
“I got a couple of phone calls,” but nothing came of it, he told the Fox Sports South booth on Sunday during Braves Alumni Weekend. Stubborn, Jones refuses to hang ’em up, as he’ll work out in the winter and come into 2016 looking for a contract.
Jones burst upon the scene as a lanky 19-year-old rookie in 1996, when he hit home runs in his first two at-bats in Game 1 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium. Once he became Atlanta’s starting center fielder in 1997, he was considered one of the game’s most prolific sluggers, hitting 368 home runs in 12 seasons, including 51 in 2005, good for a second-place finish in the NL MVP voting.
It was a quick fall from grace for Jones, who hit .222 in his final season with the Braves. He signed a two-year, $36.2 million deal with the Dodgers in 2008, but showed up to spring training overweight and out of shape. He batted a measly .158 in 75 injury-plagued games, and was even benched by manager Joe Torre. Los Angeles released Jones and he had a better year with the Rangers in 2009, hitting .214 but slugging 17 home runs in just 82 games as a part-time player.
Jones had similar seasons with the White Sox and Yankees, hitting for power off the bench, but not much else. A ten-time Gold Glove Award winner, Jones wasn’t even serviceable in the outfield.
It’s hard to picture a team taking a chance on Jones next year when none of them seemed to want to do so this year. But, we here at Baseball Essential can only wish him the best of luck. See you in 2016, Andruw.