Wales face the Proteas in a one-off Test in the United States before coming up against the Pumas twice, but Jones looks set to be given a rest.
"I don't think he will go on tour in the summer," Wales head coach Gatland said after his side's Six Nations win over France.
"It is about us managing him over the next 18 months.
"We have got a plan in place for him over the next year or so in terms of the amount of games he plays for the Ospreys and for us.
"He is very important for us and we need to keep him fresh."
Jones may not be the only member of the Wales team that toured New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions last year to stay at home.
Gatland added: "We will look at those players who went on the Lions tour last year and whether we take them.
"Also we will look at some of the older players who potentially have not had much of an off-season and give them a rest.
"We will start thinking about it in the next six weeks about which players we expect to take."
A 14-13 win over Les Bleus in Cardiff sealed second place for Wales in the Six Nations table behind Grand Slam winners Ireland.
Photo Getty Images. Caption: Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones