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Andruw Jones For $500K Is Good Deal

I know the move happened a bit ago, but in a move reminiscent to GM Kenny Williams' previous acquisitions of aging stars Roberto Alomar and Carl Everett (although those were trades), the White Sox added formerly elite center fielder Andruw Jones.

While Jones, who turns 33 in April, will likely never again be the player that posted WAR's over 5.0 seven times from 1997 to 2006, making him the best center fielder in the game during that period, he still appears to have some left in the tank after a solid rebound season in Texas. In relatively limited playing time, spent mostly as a designated hitter, Jones posted a .214/.323/.459 line and a .338 wOBA. Not exactly near his previous marks, but Jones showed that he's still far better than he showed the Dodgers in 2008, with much improved contact, line drive and HR/FB rates. In his very limited playing time in the field in 2009, he posted a +3.0 UZR, and while his declining athleticism and lack of experience in the playing field definitely indicate that he'll never be the defensive monster that he once was, there's reason to believe that, given his track record, he could be a solid defender, at least in a corner outfield spot.

While Jones was certainly helped by hitting in Arlington, a ballpark very condusive to offense, he was also held back by a very low .224 BABIP. Given Jones' extreme tendency to hit the ball in the air, low BABIP's certainly aren't new to him. From 2005-2009, he's posted these BABIP marks: .243, .270, .248, .231, and the lowly .224 mark from this season. Jones was definitely unlucky in 2009, but not nearly to the extent that one would generally expect. Using the brilliant Expected BABIP calculator provided by The Hardball Times, which uses a variety of result-driven statistics (K, AB, HR, BB, SB/CS, batted ball numbers provided by Baseball Info Solutions) to determine what a players BABIP *should* be, Jones' expected BABIP comes out to .299, right at the league average, and substantially higher than the .224 mark that he actually posted. Factoring in some improved luck from Jones in 2010 and he could very well be a solid everyday player if his defense hasn't declined substantially from his final days in Atlanta, although his declining athleticism and lack of playing time certainly puts that into question. 

So for only $500,000, the White Sox have made another very astute move on the free agent market, adding a solid piece with some upside at a very low cost. Presumably Jones won't be expected to be more than Chicago's fourth outfielder and part-time designated hitter, and he definitely has the upside to offer far more than that given his power potential and ability to get on base. Considering Chicago's obvious need for some additional pop and outfield help, retaining Mark Kotsay didn't exactly add a big bopper to the lineup, this appears to have been a very solid addition for the White Sox.