Jones' agent believes he can return to form in 2020
As the 2019 Major League Baseball season nears its conclusion (as we are in the midst of the World Series), a lot of local fans have already shifted their attention to next year and the fate of local star, Nate Jones.
Jones, 34 in January, was acquired in July by the Texas Rangers, ending his long tenure with the club who drafted him in 2007, the Chicago White Sox. As Jones continues to rehab from a flexor mass tear in his right forearm, two important questions loom over the 2004 Pendleton County graduate: How effective can he be going forward? And where exactly will Jones be pitching in 2020?
Texas holds a team option in which they can opt to pick up and include Jones into their bullpen plans for next season, or choose to exercise a buyout that would make him a free agent for the first time in his career. Regardless of the decision the Rangers ultimately make, it is to occur within seven days from the end of the World Series; Jones longtime agent, Joe Speed of Sterling Sports Management, is comfortable in helping navigate the direction of Jones next chapter in his big league career.
“I’ve had detailed discussions with Nate and his family, and we are prepared for anything that can unfold,” Speed said. “Nate will be ready to contribute his talents wherever he is playing next year,” he added.
The relationship between Speed and Jones dates back nearly 15 years ago when Jones caught the eye of the Cincinnati-based sports agent during his playing days at Northern Kentucky University. They struck up a friendship that had evolved into far more than business through the years, as Speed says he considers Jones family.
“I cannot say enough good things about the kind of guy Nate is. He comes from a great family, and we share a lot of the same values. I’ve grown very close to both he and his wife, Lacy, and perhaps the best thing I can say about them is that they have remained the same friendly, down-to-earth people that they were many years ago,” Speed explained.
Should Jones have to explore free agency, Speed believes there will be plenty of suitors who will be interested in the services of the hard-throwing righthanders. Aside from the 98-mph fastball and top-notch breaking pitches he possesses, Speed believes it’s the intangibles he brings as a person and teammate that will make him valuable to MLB clubs.
“Nate is well-respected around the game and known as a great leader and teammate. On the mound, he’s always been calm, cool and collected, and his veteran presence is something you see on full display right now. Anyone who’s been watching the playoffs has seen a number of teams with lots of seasoned veteran players on their rosters. A guy like Nate can very easily be one of those guys who is doing things to help win championships.”
Jones is expected to be fully healthy by the time spring training comes around, and while his past few seasons have been derailed by injury, Speed feels that he still has plenty of baseball left ahead of him, whether it be in a Rangers uniform or elsewhere.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that Nate can return to being a shutdown reliever who brings so much to any locker room that he steps into.”