Last week, the O's signed the 26-year-old to a six-year, $85.5 million extension that includes a $2 million signing bonus and guarantees him an average annual salary of roughly $14 million during the next six seasons. If Jones plays poorly, he'll still have more money in the bank at the end of the deal than most players ever make. If he plays well, he'll be young enough to command another mega-contract when he becomes a free agent. Either way, his financial future is assured.
We can't predict Jones' on-field future with quite the same clarity. Jones is two months into what's shaping up to be a breakout season, which probably prompted the Orioles to make a long-term commitment when they did. Even after an 0-for-4 performance Wednesday night that snapped a 20-game hitting streak, he boasts a .327 true average (TAv), the fifth-best figure in the American League and a giant leap above his .265 career TAv entering the season and the .282 mark he managed in 2011.
If what we're seeing is Jones' true talent level, Baltimore could spot him several more million and still get a steal on the extension.
However, some giant leaps lead to stumbles. Jones won't be a bust, but if he regresses toward his past performance, the Orioles might wish they'd bought a little lower. With the exception of Wednesday's 0-fer, Jones has stayed hot even as the first-place Orioles have faltered.
But to keep his stats from suffering a similar swoon, he'll have to play his way into an extremely exclusive group, as few players have sustained a power boost during a full season like the one Jones has shown in April and May.