Even after signing starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez to a $50 million contract earlier this week, the Orioles may not be done adding significant pieces for the 2014 season.
Multiple reports indicate that Baltimore remains in discussions with free-agent starting pitcher Ervin Santana and free-agent designated hitter Kendrys Morales. Even though the Orioles’ payroll is now estimated to be $96 million, it appears that executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette may have been given the leeway to exceed the previously-set $100 million threshold discussed earlier in the winter.
According to The Sun, talks with Morales have intensified as the Orioles now only need to give up a second-round pick (55th overall) to sign another free agent made a qualifying offer by his former team. Morales might be willing to accept a short-term deal — perhaps two years — with an opt-out clause after the first year. Agent Scott Boras is notorious for requesting those for clients struggling to find good value in the open market.
Such an arrangement would potentially allow Morales to hit the open market while the Orioles would likely make him a qualifying offer of their own to then gain a supplemental pick in the following year’s draft. Under such a scenario, the Orioles would be sacrificing their second-round choice in the 2014 draft to potentially fetch a supplemental pick — which would fall between the first and second round — in the following year’s draft.
The 30-year-old Morales hit .277 with 23 home runs and 80 runs batted in while playing for the Seattle Mariners last season.
Meanwhile, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports the Orioles remain in contact with Santana despite having signed Jimenez to a four-year deal to add an experienced arm to their young starting rotation.
Santana went 9-10 with a 3.24 earned run average in 32 starts for the Kansas City Royals last season following eight years spent with the Los Angeles Angels.
Multiple outlets were also reporting late Friday afternoon that the Orioles remain in discussions for free-agent outfielder Nelson Cruz.