Braves will not re-sign OF Jones

By Guy Curtright

Staff Correspondent

ATLANTA - Don't expect a for sale sign in front of Andruw Jones' Sugarloaf mansion any time soon. But the Duluth resident is no longer the Atlanta Braves' center fielder.

Jones was told Tuesday by general manager John Schuerholz that the Braves won't try to re-sign him.

Scott Boras, Jones' agent, thinks that his client deserves at least a five-year contract at nearly $20 million per season as a free agent.

That is way to rich for the Braves, who need to upgrade the starting rotation and try to re-sign first

baseman Mark Teixeira before he becomes a free agent after next season.

Jones, 30, has spent his entire career with the Braves and will likely win his 10th consecutive Gold Glove when the awards are announced. But he slumped to a .222 average this season and didn't fit into the Atlanta payroll.

Although he wanted to stay with the Braves, the center fielder was prepared for the split.

"This is a business and I know that," he said. "I'm not surprised. I knew this would probably happen. That's baseball."

Jones made $14 million in the final season of a long-term deal that was agreed to without Boras. A hometown discount was no longer an option and the sides were far apart.

Under baseball rules, Jones can't officially file for free agency until after the World Series, but now there is no longer any suspense on either side.

It is not known which teams will have the most interest in Jones, who fell to 26 homers and 94 RBIs this season.

Free agency will likely feature two other top-flight center fielders - the Minnesota Twins' Torii Hunter and the Philadelphia Phillies' Aaron Rowand.

The Braves aren't expected to make a run at Hunter or Rowand, but could be interested in Mike Cameron of San Diego. He is a native of LaGrange who lives in the Atlanta suburbs.

But the Braves aren't likely to offer Cameron, 34, a long-term contract because of their need to address other areas. He hit .242 with 21 homers and 78 RBIs this year.

Jones came up to the Braves as a 19-year-old during the 1996 season and hit two homers in his first World Series game against the New York Yankees.

He was his most productive offensively in 2005 and 2006, hitting 92 homers and driving in 257 runs. He won the National League Hank Aaron Award in 2005 and has 368 career homers to go with 1,117 RBIs and a .263 average.

"You can't take this to heart," Jones said. "I have to move on and start over with a new team."