Braves' Jones Gets $90 Million Deal


Friday, August 18th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


ATLANTA (AP) — Finally announcing a deal that had been rumored for weeks, NL MVP Chipper Jones and the Atlanta Braves agreed Thursday on a six-year contract said to be worth $90 million.

Jones, 28, had been eligible to become a free agent after this season. He has played his entire career in Atlanta after being selected by the Braves with the first pick of the 1990 amateur draft.

``Having been born in this organization and grown up in this organization, this is the only organization I know,'' Jones said. ``I would certainly love nothing more than to start my career here and finish here.''

The deal, which contains two club options that could make it worth $120 million for eight seasons, would be the fourth-richest package in baseball, trailing only Cincinnati outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. ($116.5 million for nine years) Los Angeles pitcher Kevin Brown ($105 million for seven years) and New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza ($91 million for seven years).

``This kind of money is really unheard of,'' Jones said. ``It's almost embarrassing to talk about because it's not where I came from. You know, I came from the middle class, and we had to work hard for what we've got.''

Neither Jones nor the Braves would confirm the financial terms of the contract.

Braves general manager John Schuerholz said he is not bothered by paying astronomical salaries. He said Jones earned a paycheck that matches his status as one of the finest position players in baseball.

``We have a young man here who has established himself as one of the real cornerstone players of this franchise of all time,'' Schuerholz said.

Last year, he became the first major-leaguer to hit .300 (.319) with 100 runs (116), 40 doubles (41), 40 homers (45), 100 RBIs (110), 100 walks (126) and 20 stolen bases (25).

This year, Jones is hitting .305 with 25 homers and 83 RBIs.

Jones' deal is believed to match Brown's average salary of $15 million. That average would be surpassed if the commissioner's office decides Roger Clemens' $30.9 million extension with the New York Yankees, announced last Friday, should be treated as a two-year contract, not a three-year deal as the team announced.

Jones is getting $4.75 million this season in the final year of his contract.

There was a time when Jones considered leaving the Braves. Before the 1999 season, he thought about making a fresh start after he publicly admitted fathering a child in an extramarital affair. Jones said the fans in Atlanta quickly changed his mind.

With the boost in salary — ``more money than I could ever spend,'' Jones called it — Jones said he will buy a ranch to run with his father — something he said he has wanted to do since he was 10 years old.

``It's all about where you're the happiest, and I'm happiest here,'' said Jones, a Florida native who lives just north of Atlanta.