LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Would the Orioles part with a top draft pick to sign a free agent? One industry source today said the answer is likely yes.
If that is true, then the player the club has interest in is one of the six remaining players that turned down a qualifying offer. The list includes outfielders Shin-Soo Choo and Nelson Cruz, shortstop Stephen Drew, first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales and pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana.
The club has been linked, at least to some extent, to Cruz, Choo, Jimenez and Morales.
The Orioles have the 17th pick in the first round of the 2014 draft and would lose the pick if they signed any of those players. While the first 11 picks in the first round are protected, any team from No. 12 on down would lose a first-round pick for signing a player that received and rejected a qualifying offer.
Cruz hit .266 with 27 homers and 76 RBIs for Texas last season. He has averaged 32 homers and 99 RBIs over 162 games and has a career .823 OPS.
Choo hit .285 for Cincinnati with 21 homers, 54 RBIs and a whopping .423 on-base percentage. He has a career .389 OBP.
Jimenez went 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA last season for Cleveland. Over 32 starts, he pitched 182 2/3 innings.
Morales hit .277 for Seattle with 23 homers, 80 RBIs and a .785 OPS.
Seven players that turned down qualifying offers have already signed. That list includes Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran.
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com just posted this via Twitter:
Sources: #Orioles met today with agents for Nelson Cruz. Plan to continue talks. #Rangers, #Mariners remain among possibilities.