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Andruw Jones Completes Rangers Deal

So, it's official: Andruw Jones is a Texas Ranger. Now comes the hard part: Trying to figure out why he decided to sign with the Rangers.

Among the offers extended to Jones -- and it's unsure exactly how many there were -- two seemed to stand out: The Yankees and, once it was offered, the Rangers. A cursory glance at the centerfield depth chart of the two teams makes Jones' choice pretty puzzling.

New York Yankees: Melky Cabrera, Nick Swisher, Johnny Damon, Brett Gardner, Austin Jackson

Texas Rangers: Josh Hamilton, Andruw Jones, Marlon Byrd

At an initial glance, sheer numbers may make it seem like Texas gives Jones a better opportunity to play. Unfortunately for the former Brave, that's only going to be the case if Hamilton gets hurt. Otherwise, Josh Hamilton is going to play in center field every day.

That's not the case with the Yankees. Sure, there may be three other veterans in front of where he may have been placed in an initial depth chart, but does anyone really think that a resurrected Andruw Jones would have provided less power than Melky Cabrera? And while the Yankees might have then turned to a platoon with Swisher, Damon and Jones, a strong showing from Jones could have earned him the job.

Things don't get much better for Jones in right field, either. Here's how that position checks out for the Yankees and Rangers:

New York Yankees: Xavier Nady, Nick Swisher

Texas Rangers: Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton, Marlon Byrd, Brandon Boggs

In case you missed it, Nelson Cruz batted a cool .330 last year, so Jones will have to get above that to push Hamilton over into right. If you think that's going to happen, well, you've got a lot more faith in Jones than most GMs do.

Meanwhile, the Yankees prospective right fielders are Nady -- who hit .305 last year but has been shopped to other teams by New York all offseaosn -- and Swisher, who scuffled to a .219 average and could easily have to slide over to either of the other outfield spots or first base should a teammate get injured.

There's still a legitimate possibility that Nady could get dealt either during Spring Training or at some point early in the season. If he does, a window would have opened up for Jones. That's not the case in Texas.

So what was Jones thinking? Well, he might have bought into the Hamilton resurrection story, seeing himself as a potential Josh Hamilton v 2.0. Another significant factor may have been the opt out clause in his contract, which states that Jones can request his release after March 20 if he's not on the 40-man roster. That would give him enough time to find another team to latch on to.

Is this deal a good one? Well, that all depends how you view it. If he doesn't perform, it probably will be because Jones can take off and try to find a new landing pad. However, if he does perform, it seems like Jones would have been better served in New York, where a thick crop of moderate talent blocks his way, not a young .330 hitter and one of the best sluggers in the game.

By Cameron Smith  |  February 11, 2009; 2:40 AM ET
Categories:  Rangers , Yankees  
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Next: Abreu to Sign With Angels

Comments

The Rangers don't really have a strong option in LF. Maybe they convinced Andruw that if he gets his act together he can man center and they'll move either Hamilton or Cruz to LF and he'll be able to play?

Posted by: adampschroeder | February 11, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

The Ballpark in Arlington is the place to go to get a boost for one's hitting numbers. Jones looked absolutely awful in the mostly pitcher's friendly parks in the NL last year. Maybe he can resurrect his career in a place where what appear to be routine fly balls end up in the seats. Of course, it won't matter if Jones continues to have trouble making contact in the first place like he has over the past two seasons.

Posted by: VaNat | February 11, 2009 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Your post assumes that he was offered equal money in both places. I'm guessing these factors weighed in his decision.
1. He wasn't offered $1mil guaranteed from the Yanks.
2. Texas bandbox stadium.

Posted by: dclifer | February 11, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

1) These opt out clauses are pretty standard for any veteran signing a minor league deal. I'd be shocked if the Yankees offer didn't include a similar clause.

2) I doubt the money had anything to do with it. The Dodgers will be paying him a total of $16 million over the next 6 years. An extra $500k isn't really going to make the difference.

3) If Jones falters again, the last place he'd want to be is New York, the booing and media (both local and national) attention would be relentless. I'm sure this had an impact on his decision. He's going to paid no matter what, he might as well make things relatively easy on himself.

Posted by: noahthek | February 11, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Texas is where this chubby, over-rated, hot dog belongs!

Posted by: kase | February 12, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

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