Jones would like improved outfield defense for O's

January 30th, 2017

BALTIMORE -- While the Orioles have made outfield defense a priority this offseason, center fielder made it clear during Saturday's FanFest that he believes the team's moves so far have not been enough to address the issue.

"It's going to be hard. These guys aren't necessarily known for their defense," Jones said of the team acquiring Seth Smith via trade and re-signing , a duo that will go with Hyun Soo Kim and 2015 Rule 5 Draft pick Joey Rickard. "We don't have a strikeout pitching staff, so our defense is used quite a bit. You see how our infield defense is unbelievable. We're still competitive in the outfield, but we just need to get a little bit more athletic out there in my point of view. I've been out there for a while. I've seen the changes. Those are just a little bit of my ideas."

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Jones has done well in defensive awards voted on by players but has been criticized by those who cite advanced metrics. It's difficult to determine what kind of an impact not having an everyday left or right fielder next to him has had, as Jones has often had to change his positioning as a result.

Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, who selected two outfielders in December's Rule 5 Draft, reiterated on Saturday that outfield depth is a priority as Spring Training nears. But he also said that there are ways for the O's to improve in that area without adding players by improving the defense of their current outfielders.

"I think there's some things that we can do to make our outfield defense better [without adding players]," Duquette said. "There's ways that you can measure that defense more precisely now. There's some tools out there, and I think that's one area where the 2017 club can look to improve over 2016."

Jones elaborated on his opinion when told of Duquette's statement.

"I don't necessarily buy that idea," Jones said. "Sometimes, athletic personnel does help. You can play where you want, but if you don't have the guys to get to a certain spot, it doesn't matter. It's basically saying you can plug anything in an equation and get an answer. Me and you can play in the exact same spot and our reaction would be different. That goes for anyone around baseball. I would say just get more athletic guys -- not saying that Trumbo and Seth Smith aren't athletic, they're very good athletes, but they're not top-of-the-line defensive players first."