Lee leading first base race

If I had to handicap the first base race in Baltimore, it’s becoming more evident that Derrek Lee has pulled ahead of Adam LaRoche.

LaRoche was an early favorite, and the Orioles have held extensive talks with his agent, Mike Milchin, but they seem prepared to move on without him because of contract demands that they’re not willing to meet.

I talked to someone in the organization earlier today who, while declining to offer many specifics, indicated that Lee is the more likely player to sign between the two free agents.

Lee is willing to take a one-year deal. LaRoche is looking for three years and would prefer going somewhere else unless the market completely dries up.

No matter who ends up signing on the dotted line, the Orioles are confident that they’ll find a “track record” first baseman, rather than moving Luke Scott to the corner opposite Mark Reynolds.

Scott is ticketed to remain the primary designated hitter and a part-time left fielder because of concerns about his defense at first base.

For the same reason, there’s no point in debating whether the Orioles will move Nolan Reimold to first. They still believe that they’ll sign a player with extensive experience at the position.

Right now, there’s a much better chance that Lee will be that player. Things can change quickly, as we know, but the Orioles aren’t holding out hope that LaRoche will come back to them.

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