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Andruw Jones to play in Japan

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Andruw Jones is one of the most memorable baseball players of my lifetime. He’s not the greatest center fielder of his generation, but he was in the World Series as a teenager. He was a remarkable defensive player, a powerful middle-of-the-order MVP candidate and one of the most recognizable members of those great Braves teams from a decade ago. There was a time when, without a doubt, he seemed to be playing his way toward the Hall of Fame.

How memorable is he today? I’ve covered him the past two years, and on Friday night I read on Twitter [3]that he’d signed to play in Japan. I was surprised for a moment, then I completely forgot about it until the Associated Press confirmed the story and MLB Trade Rumors [4] picked it up this morning.

Jones’ fall has been stunning. Just five years ago he was still a Gold Glover. Six years ago he was an all-star with 41 home runs. Seven years ago, he was No. 2 in the MVP race.

This year he was left off the playoff roster because he was no longer productive even in a limited platoon role.

Here’s the AP with the details of Jones deal in Japan, which will reportedly pay him $3.5 million. [5] Hard to consider this a significant loss for the Yankees, who surely would have looked elsewhere for a right-handed bat next season regardless of Jones availability.

[6]TOKYO (AP) — The Rakuten Eagles of Japan’s Pacific League say they are set to sign veteran major league outfielder Andruw Jones.

The 35-year-old Jones became a free agent after playing for the New York Yankees the last two seasons, and the Eagles said he is expected to complete a deal after undergoing a physical.

Jones played in 94 games last season for New York, batting .197 with 14 home runs.

Jones is a five-time All-Star and has 10 Gold Gloves. He hit 434 career home runs over 17 seasons in the major leagues and could provide a boost for the Eagles, whose 52 homers were the fewest in Japan last season.

Associated Press photo