Chipper Jones is entering the final year of his contract with the Atlanta Braves and has made it clear over the past few days that he, without a doubt, wants to spend the entirety of his career with the club. He was selected by the Braves as the first overall pick in the first-year player draft back in 1990. This is the only club that Chipper has ever played for and has repeatedly made it known that he has no desire to go elsewhere.
I think there was little question to any fans that there would be any problems with that happening until a couple of weeks ago with the departure of John Smoltz to the Boston Red Sox. At that point in time, Chipper shared many of the same frustrations as the fans. It’s taken a little bit of time for the emotions to calm down, but with the help of a few pitching signings, everyone is slowly getting back to the business that is baseball and trying to move on with the offseason.
Though approaching his 37th birthday, Jones is the reigning National League batting champion, batting .364 and slugging .574 in the 2008 season. Over the past 3 seasons, he has also led all of Major League Baseball with a .342 batting average. The downside to Chipper’s aging body is his tendency to come down with injuries throughout the season. In the past season, he has played in an average of 124 games and made a collective five trips to the disabled list. Despite this, he remains confident that he will remain productive on the field at the age of 40, and as far as I’m concerned, has done nothing to prove otherwise through the past couple of seasons.
Staying in Atlanta has always been the number one priority for Chipper. In 2006, he agreed to alter his contract and sacrifice up to $15 million in potential earnings for the guarantee that he would be staying in Atlanta at least through the end of the 2008 season. With his production last season, Chipper’s $11 million option for the 2009 season has vested. It has never been completely about the money, but rather the chance to remain and play for the fans that have been with him for his entire career.
Though Frank Wren told Chipper last September that he hoped to work out a contract extension as soon as possible, it’s understandable that the focus of the club has been elsewhere this offseason. With trying to sign new pitching and the potential of adding some power to the lineup, Jones understands that Wren’s primary objectives have been outside of a contract extension. With the season rapidly approaching though, Chipper’s outlook on the process remains the same. He has repeatedly said that he would not negotiate a contract mid-season again due to the amount of distraction that it provides from trying to play baseball. Hopefully the front office and Chipper can get something worked out soon and the focus can shift to the season at hand.
I realize that the Braves may be hesitant to offer Jones an overly extended contract, but Chipper is only looking for a fair-priced, three-year contract from the Braves. I can’t forsee any reason why he has not earned that respect in the eyes of the front office of the club. He is truly a face of the Atlanta Braves and it would be the biggest shame to see him part ways and play for another team. Without a doubt, if the Braves don’t extend and re-sign Chipper’s contract, he would pull huge interest from many other teams who know just how productive he can be despite his age. Losing Smoltz and Chipper in back-to-back seasons is just not an option for Braves fans.
Tags: Chipper Jones, Contract, Extension
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