Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones is having a career season. In fact, his wins above replacement total this year via FanGraphs has already almost equaled his total from 2011. Suddenly, a player that many envisioned being traded this season ahead of his final year of arbitration in 2013 has become the type of guy that a franchise would consider building its roster around.

And so, it wasn’t all that surprising when Ken Rosenthal reported this morning that Jones and the Orioles were close to agreeing to a contract extension.

But how much is a fair price to pay for Jones if you’re the Orioles? Certainly, you can’t look at this year’s WAR total to date, stretch it out over a full season and imagine that to be his true talent. Nor, could you only look at his previous seasons without giving proper weight to his amazing start this year.

I wonder if the contract that Jose Bautista signed with the Toronto Blue Jays for $65 million over five years might act as something of a blue print for the deal between Jones and the Orioles. Jones might not be as dominant with the bat as Bautista and he isn’t coming off an entire year of dominance as the Blue Jays slugger did when he agreed to his deal. However, Jones is entering his final year of arbitration at a younger age than Bautista, and he’s shown an ability to consistently contribute at the Major League level even before his break out year.

It would seem fair, or at least fairish. But, then, this:

Okay, well, maybe youth plays a bigger role in contract negotiations than what we’re giving it credit for. And perhaps Jones’ position in center field, defending a more difficult positions boosts his value … but “well north?” Unless, like the Bautista deal, this is referring to a team option that could boost the value of the deal to $78 million over six years, I’m not seeing much of an advantage to the Orioles signing Jones right now, as opposed to negotiating at the conclusion of the season.

In fact, I’ll go a bit further and suggest that any deal signed at this point in the season, that treats him as something more than a three WAR player at his peak would be an overpayment, especially considering that he still has a final year of arbitration before he could hit free agency anyway. If the Orioles use the timing of the deal as leverage, it’s probably going to be a good contract for the team. If they don’t, and put too much weight on his current numbers, they’ll be buying high on Jones.

Given the speed with which teams are locking up their star players, I like the idea of extending Jones, but in actual practice the terms of the contract could end up being much more than a team should pay.

And The Rest

The Tampa Bay Rays remain the most fun baseball team in the Majors. [Tampa Bay Times]

Why we shouldn’t be so quick to judge what other fan bases are doing. [The Platoon Advantage]

Curt Schilling’s post baseball career as a video game businessman isn’t going so well. [The Verge]

Major League Baseball was named sports league of the year. I won’t believe it until all-star teams from every league compete against each other at every sport. []

Ryan Howard’s latest surgery involved removing a muscle. [The Philly Post]

The San Francisco Giants asploded in offense last night, and for once, I’m not even being sarcastic. [McCovey Chronicles]

The curious case of Cody Ransom. [FanGraphs]

Atrocious. [Hub Pages]

Check out the Baseball Prospectus daily hit list, which is a power ranking that isn’t obnoxious. [Baseball Prospectus]

The DJF Podcast is up, ready, and raring to be listened to. [DJF]

On the latest episode of the Getting Blanked Show, we shoot down the ridiculous notion that the Steinbrenners would be actively pursuing a sale of the New York Yankees, Drew talks to Brett Gardner about being awesome and we lay down our #PropHate bets for the weekend. [Getting Blanked]