03/30/09 9:40 PM ET
Chipper close to contract extension
Deal would likely allow veteran to finish career with Braves
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
A Major League source has indicated that Jones and the Braves are close to agreeing to terms on a contact extension that could keep the veteran third baseman in Atlanta through the end of the 2013 season.
An official announcement could come as soon as Tuesday.
"We're talking and moving closer to getting something done," Braves general manager Frank Wren said.
While Wren remained vague about the progress of these talks, it's believed that this extension would provide Jones the opportunity to continue playing in Atlanta through his 41st birthday.
Financial terms of the proposed deal weren't disclosed. But it's believed Jones was seeking a three-year contract with an option for the 2013 season.
"I lump myself into the category of being the John Smoltz-type of athlete," Jones said in January. "When I'm done playing, I'm not going to bulk up to 250 pounds. I work out and do stuff to keep myself in shape year-round. I think I'm going to be as productive at 40 as I am now. You're not going to be as spry in the legs as you were when you were 25, but you can still be productive."
The Braves have employed Jones since selecting him with the first overall selection in the 1990 First-Year Player Draft. They've seen him earn five All-Star selections, capture National League MVP Award honors in 1999 and win his first batting title last year.
In addition, the Braves have seen Jones develop into one of the greatest switch-hitters the game has ever seen. The .364 batting average he recorded last year was just a fraction lower than the .365 mark Mickey Mantle compiled while setting the record for switch-hitters in 1957.
Jones, who will be 37 in April, enters this season with 408 homers and a .310 career batting average, making him the only switch-hitter in Major League history with 300 homers and a career batting average of at least .300.
The one knock against Jones comes from the fact that he's battled numerous injuries over the past five seasons. While playing in an average of 124 games over the past three seasons, he has made five trips to the disabled list.
But when healthy, he remains one of the game's most productive offensive players.
Over the past three seasons, Jones led all Major Leaguers with a .342 batting average, ranked second with a .435 on-base percentage and stood fourth with a .592 slugging percentage.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.