The Dodgers have stepped up talks with free-agent center fielder Andruw Jones, a club official confirmed Sunday. Jones is coming off the worst season of his career -- .222 average, 26 homers, 96 RBIs. Even with those numbers, Jones would immediately become the most potent proven bat in the Dodgers' lineup. Management envisions a batting order with the potential for five 20-homer players -- Jones, Jeff Kent, Russell Martin, James Loney and Matt Kemp, even though the latter three have never hit 20 homers in a Major League season. Jones, a 10-time Gold Glove and five-time All-Star, is believed to be seeking a contract in excess of the five-year, $90 million deal Torii Hunter signed with the Angels. But there is concern among some clubs that Jones, still 30, might be tailing off. The Dodgers apparently are not interested in a contract guaranteed longer than two years, but that would allow Jones the opportunity to revisit free agency with greater leverage after a more productive season. Jones' acquisition would create a surplus of outfielders and probably force the relocation of Juan Pierre's vulnerable throwing arm to left field.
Dodgers Step Up Interest In A. Jones