The Orioles announced they’ve placed infielder Jahmai Jones on unconditional release waivers. The 29 other clubs will have an opportunity to put in a claim. If he passes through unclaimed, he’ll be a free agent.
This was the likely outcome once the O’s designated Jones for assignment over the weekend. The 24-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery last week and will miss the remainder of the season. By rule, injured players can’t be placed on outright waivers. When the O’s designated Jones for assignment, they committed to either trading him or releasing him.
Jones suffered the injury while on optional assignment to Triple-A Norfolk. He could’ve been placed on the minor league injured list but would’ve continued to occupy a spot on the 40-man roster for the rest of the season. Baltimore could’ve recalled him and placed him on the MLB 60-day IL to free a 40-man roster spot, but doing so would’ve required paying him at the prorated portion of the $700K league minimum salary for the rest of the year.
Rather than do so, Baltimore will run the risk of losing Jones on waivers or via free agency. It’s not out of the question another team places a claim and is willing to pay Jones the big league minimum — the Giants snagged Luis González from the White Sox last summer in a similar circumstance, for instance — but it’s also possible he simply clears waivers. In that event, the O’s could try to re-sign Jones on a minor league deal, but he’d be free to explore similar arrangements with other teams.
The Orioles acquired Jones over the 2020-21 offseason in the deal that sent starter Alex Cobb to the Angels. The former second-round pick and well-regarded prospect hit .149/.208/.194 over 26 big league games last year. He’d had a .212/.339/.343 line through 118 plate appearances with Norfolk prior to the injury.