DALLAS - During my one on one video interview tonight with Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette, I asked him about center fielder Adam Jones.
There were conflicting reports today, including my own blog where I reported a source saying the Orioles were open to holding trade talks involving Jones. Another report said the Orioles were telling teams Jones was "off limits." I asked Duquette if either were true.
"First of all, we are not out marketing Adam Jones," Duquette said. "He's our center fielder and we like to have him on our ballclub, and frankly, I'm looking forward to meeting him. You know, teams call all the time about your best players. Because they are your best players, right? Because, they think they can help their ballclub too. But as far as Adam Jones goes, we want him to be our center fielder."
Does that mean Jones is, in fact, off limits for trade talks?
"We are not marketing Adam Jones, we like him in center field," Duquette said.
Duquette has talked several times in recent days about building around his core group of players, guys like Jones, Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis. So does that make some of those players untouchable in a trade?
"I don't believe in saying that anybody is available for the right price, because I think that detracts from your building of a team," he said. "We've got a core group of players here that we like and that the fans like and everybody knows who they are starting with Matt Wieters. Those are the players we are trying to build our team around."
In his session with the Baltimore reporters that are here in Dallas today, probably the most intriguing comment Duquette made was that his goal was to finish at .500 or better in 2012. Some might consider that a lofty goal for a team that finished 69-93 last season.
"I think the fans would agree with me. It's been a long time and it's about time we turned around the culture and the ways of the team," Duquette said. "So we're going to be looking to improve the ballclub so that we can win more games than we lose. There's no better time to do that than right now."
Duquette said the Orioles are involved in several trade discussions and have put out a few offers to free agents as well. Are any of those talks close to fruition?
"That is the question of the week, right? We've had trade offers out to several teams," Duquette said. "We have had offers out to free agent players to sign with the club. We're hopeful that we can close on some of them this week. If we don't get them done this week, this market is going to stretch into the next couple of weeks, so I'm confident we can get some good players to help us."