Setting aside the odd typo on Jones' given first name, Jacque, Walters raises an interesting question that generates a few more.
While I am not about to start on the unequal comparison of Brian Giles and Jones as players, as that has been addressed in detail on the message board and elsewhere, there are several possible scenarios going on here worth considering, assuming the rumor is valid, of course.
1) Stretch the money. With Jones in house for say $6 million next season, there would be another $3 million conceivably left from the Giles fund to potentially re-sign second baseman Mark Grudzielanek.
The latter is something we continue to receive signals that the Cardinals want to do, even while the list of teams interested in Grudz seems to increase every day. The latest to apparently join the mix is the Boston Red Sox, who are looking for a stabile partner for Edgar Renteria. Wouldn't that be ironic?
2) Push Giles. The likely reason any offer made by the Cardinals to Giles wasn't accepted was because Giles is waiting to see if he can do better elsewhere. What better way for the Cardinals to try to nudge Giles into a commitment than to have their name linked with arguably the second-best free agent corner infielder available?
Not raising their own bid ensures the Cards aren't bidding against themselves. However, that could backfire.
Check this out. Sunday's Akron Beacon Journal confirms what I've been saying about the Tribe's major push to sign Giles. "The Indians continue to have serious talks with Brian Giles. They are willing to offer him a three-year deal at close to $30 million." Giles was originally drafted by Cleveland and played his first three major league seasons with them.
3) Two outfielders. An idea way out there would be that Jones would replace Sanders and Giles would replace Walker and the two are independent. However, it the Cards were really considering tying up $15 million or more in the outfield, would they be calling pitching their top priority?
To carry this idea a step further, one email I received Sunday suggested that Jim Edmonds would then be traded in this scenario to free up cash. The Cards could be whole defensively, since Jones had played in center earlier in his career.
Putting aside Jones' erratic arm, the thought of trading Edmonds seems so remote, I don't suggest even considering it. From the link below, scroll down to check my Reader Mail response from 11/13 to read what I said when the "trade Edmonds to the Yankees" rumor was floated by Bernie Miklasz. Reader Mail link.
4) Smokescreen. The most optimistic souls are holding out hope that the Cardinals and Giles already have a gentlemen's agreement in place, but are waiting until after December 7 to announce it.
By that date, the Padres have to declare whether or not they plan to offer Giles arbitration. Giles can still decline and join any team he wants next season. However, that ensures the signing team will forfeit an early draft pick next June (first or second round).
While it is not known for sure whether the Padres will let Giles walk without any compensation, if he signs before that December 7 date, the Padres are guaranteed the compensation, just as if they had later offered arbitration and Giles declined.
In other words, all things equal, any team interested in signing any free agent would be best served to wait until the previous team has to declare by December 7. On the other hand, some teams will be willing to forfeit their pick to make a quick strike such as the Cubs did with Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry.
The Cardinals may not be among them, however. They are trying to restock a thin minor league system and might be resistant to losing a pick they might not have to lose by waiting a couple of weeks more before coming to terms with Giles or Jones, or any other free agent, for that matter.
This compensation angle is certainly something to consider before criticizing the general manager for perceived lack of action in signing free agents prior to the arbitration declaration date.
Type A versus Type B
As a footnote, there is a small difference in Jones' case compared to Giles', but not one that seriously impacts the Cardinals as the signing team. Jones is a Type B free agent (same as Reggie Sanders), while Giles is a Type A.
Any team signing Jones now would still forfeit their first pick (or second round if their draft position is among the top half of teams), just as if they had signed Giles. Same if the Twins later offer Jones arbitration, but he declines.
The additional bump that a team losing a Type A player receives is what is called a "supplemental pick", an extra selection between the first and second rounds of the draft. The Twins would not receive that for Jones, since he is a Type B.
Refer back to my recent story, Cardinals Six Year Free Agents Explained for a refresher on what the various types of free agency mean.
For those who hung on all the way until the end, here is a bit of new information. I am told the Cardinals made an inquiry with agent Scott Boras about free agent pitcher Kevin Millwood, late of the Cleveland Indians. I don't know if the discussions went anywhere, but wouldn't it be weird if Giles signed with them and the Cards came out of nowhere to grab Millwood?
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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