From 2009 through 2012, left-handed slugger Garrett Jones averaged 21 homers per season while batting .261 and slugging a solid .472 for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In the 2013 regular season, as the Buccos made their first run into the MLB playoffs in over two decades, the 32-year-old veteran struggled through the weakest campaign of his professional career.
This past summer, Jones put up a .233/.289/.419 slash line with just 15 home runs in 440 plate appearances. Even worse, he recorded a career-high 23 percent strikeout rate and managed to scratch out just two hits in 21 at-bats versus southpaws. The poor performance led the Pirates’ front office to make a tough decision last Monday as the franchise designated him for assignment rather than pay the $5-6 million likely headed his way in arbitration.
The power potential that Jones brings to the table should be highly sought after on the free agent market. Though he no longer seems best suited as an everyday option for a contending team, the first baseman still has the ability to be a huge asset as one half of a platoon or a big bat off the bench.
The Atlanta Braves are a team in dire need of a long-ball threat for their bench this offseason. The 2013 NL East Champions have a daunting lineup intact for next year, but greatly lack punch from the reserves that are currently on the roster. Jones would remedy that ailment.
The Braves originally drafted the Illinois native out of high school in the 14th round of the 1999 amateur draft. A reunion could definitely be beneficial for both parties.