After a nearly two-decade long career in baseball, longtime outfielder Andruw Jones is reportedly set to announce his retirement from the game in the near future, according to Cory McCartney of FOX Sports South.
Andruw Jones had talked of a comeback, but says he will be announcing retirement soon. #Braves
— Cory McCartney (@coryjmccartney) January 30, 2016
As McCartney mentions, Jones, who will turn 39 years old soon, had talked about making a comeback. Speaking to SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo, last November, Jones — who spent 2014-2015 with Nippon Professional Baseball’s Rakuten Golden Eagles — revealed his desire to return to MLB. However, he also stated that if no offers surfaced, he’d retire instead.
It appears that the latter situation is exactly what happened, leading Jones to retire from the game.
Jones signed with the Atlanta Braves at the age of 16 in 1993 and quickly developed into one of the game’s top prospects. He made his debut at the age of 19 during the 1996 season. Just a few weeks later, Jones made history when he became the youngest player in history to hit a home run in a World Series game — hitting two of them off Yankees’ ace Andy Pettite in Game 1. While the Braves lost that World Series to the Yankees in six games, Jones won himself a chance to be an everyday player the next season.
A solid rookie campaign in 1997 (.231, 18 HR, 70 RBI) evolved into Jones taking the reigns as the Braves’ everyday center fielder starting in 1998. In the ten seasons that followed, Jones won 10 consecutive Gold Glove awards for his outstanding defense in center field. Also, Jones averaged 34 HR and 103 RBI over that stretch — peaking with a 51 HR and 128 season in 2005 that earned him a second place finish in NL MVP voting.
After the 2007 season, the Braves announced that Jones wouldn’t be returning for the 2008 season, per USA Today. Instead, Jones signed a two-year, $36.2 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, via MLB.com. However, that deal quickly turned sour as Jones showed up to Spring Training 20 pounds overweight and his reputation and production took severe blows.
Jones batted an abysmal.158 with just three HR and 14 RBI with the Dodgers while striking out 76 times in 75 games. At that point, Jones had never been on the disabled list, but a knee injury — which required surgery — changed that. Eventually, Dodgers’ manager Joe Torre benched Jones and he saw his playing time virtually disappear. After the season, Jones said that he did not want to return to the Dodgers and was eventually released.
The Texas Rangers were Jones’ next stop as the Curacao native inked a minor league deal. It was clear that Jones’ offensive prowess dissipated, but he still had a productive in a fourth outfielder’s role. In 82 games, Jones hit.214 with 17 HR and 43 RBI.
In 2010, Jones signed a one-year deal with the Chicago White Sox. Jones hit.230 with 19 HR and 48 RBI in 107 games for the White Sox — appearing in 100+ games for the first time since 2007.
Jones’ next and final stop in the MLB was the New York Yankees. Reprising his role as a fourth outfielder, Jones hit.247 with 13 HR and 33 RBI in the Bronx. He returned to the Yankees the following season in 2012 and hit an atrocious.197 but contributed similar HR (14) and RBI (34) totals from the previous year.
After sitting out 2013, Jones spent the last two years in Japan, where he hit.232 with 50 HR and 165 RBI.
In Jones’ case, it’s likely that if he didn’t suffer through that poor stretch from 2008-2012, he was likely headed to Cooperstown, New York, for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. His league-best defense and prodigious power helped to keep the Braves at the top of the NL East throughout the late ‘1990s and early ‘2000s.
Still, Jones will hang up his cleats a career.254 hitter with 434 HR, 1,289 RBI, 152 stolen bases, and five All-Star game appearances.
[Featured Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images]