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8.04.2006

J-J-J-J-J-Jonesin' 

ESPN's Buster Olney is reporting that Atlanta centerfielder Andruw Jones was claimed on waivers today. The Braves have less than 24 hours either to trade him to the mystery claimant, release him and let the claimant have him with no compensation, or pull him back from waivers and keep him the rest of the year.

Could the Giants be the mystery claimant? Logistically speaking, sure. I think waiver claims go in reverse order of record, so about half the teams in baseball would have had a crack at Jones before the Giants. The only playoff contenders with worse records than the Giants are the Astros and Brewers, who are barely on the fringes of the wild card race.

But would the Giants make a move like this? I would love to think so, just for its gamesmanship. It could be a defensive blocking maneuver, designed to keep Jones out of the hands of other NL West teams. But if the Giants have made the claim with a true jones for Jones, I could think of far worse things than Andruw patrolling Mays Field and getting paid $13.5 M next year, plus the pro-rated part of this year's $13 M salary.

To consummate a trade, the Braves will no doubt ask for a fat slice of the Giants young pitching corps. If they don't get what they want, well, just because Jones is on the wire doesn't mean he has to be traded. The Braves can listen to the mystery claimant's offer, say no, and decide to keep him. The Braves are burdened with some ugly contracts, but it's unlikely Atlanta GM John Schuerholtz is desperate to rid himself of Jones's salary. Unless the anonymous suitor makes a substantial offer, Jones will finish the year in Atlanta.

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