Despite an extraordinarily quiet offseason in which they’ve yet to make any big signings, the Baltimore Orioles are still in the hunt for another bat and could have interest in Kendrys Morales. MASN’s Roch Kubatko first relayed the team’s potential interest in the free agent first baseman/designated hitter, also adding that the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates have each loosely been linked to the 30 year old. It’s unclear just how serious Baltimore’s interest may be.
Much of the baseball world was surprised when Morales received a qualifying offer from the Seattle Mariners following the 2013 season. Seattle appeared confident that he’d decline and subsequently sign elsewhere, but it was still a gamble that few expected them to take. A market for Morales has been slow to develop, lending many to suggest that he should have accepted the offer – equivalent to a one year, $14.1 Million contract – in retrospect.
Morales hit .277/.336/.449 in 657 PA this past season, adding 23 HR and 80 RBI.
Baltimore’s potential interest is understandable. The team has been rumored all winter to have a desire to add a bat to their lineup, offering some added protection in the middle of a group that consists of Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, and Matt Wieters. The team’s been linked to Nelson Cruz and to trade talks with the Mets revolving around Ike Davis. Thus far Cruz’ contract demands have presented a concern and the team’s continued to balk at the high price that the Mets are asking for in return for Davis (believed to be left-handed prospect Eduardo Rodriguez). Morales might present a possible alternative.
Kubatko does address the potential loss of a draft pick, suggesting that the Orioles are “more willing to surrender that pick than previous years”, but he admits that the team still has a difficult decision to make. Most reports up to this point have suggested that GM Dan Duquette is not at all interested in signing a player that would result in the lost pick, so this does represent a change from what we’ve seen this offseason.