SARASOTA, Fla. – On Friday, there were reports indicating that the Orioles were interested in both Ervin Santana and Kendrys Morales.
The news about Santana came as a somewhat of a surprise since the team signed two pitchers this week: Suk-min Yoon and Ubaldo Jimenez. While adding Santana might be nice, it’s a lot more important for the Orioles to add another bat.
Morales has been available all winter, and as one of the free agents remaining whose signing requires compensation, his market has been limited.
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The Orioles have been linked with Morales numerous times, but with spring training already under way, the time for him to sign is now.
Manager Buck Showalter would love to bring on an impact hitter for the middle of the lineup. There are still two free agent possibilities: Morales and Nelson Cruz.
Both Morales and Cruz require compensation, but since the Orioles lost the first round pick in signing Jimenez, they’d lose just a second round pick for signing Cruz, Morales or Santana.
Morales’ market hasn’t been strong because some teams are still leery of losing a draft choice, and he’s perceived as a pure designated hitter.
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Showalter would like a pure DH. For now, Henry Urrutia and Delmon Young are the placeholders, but Morales, who’s a switch hitter, could enable the Orioles to save a roster spot and carry an extra infielder or outfielder.
Morales, who’s 30, averages 27 home runs, 90 RBIs and .280 for his career.
Putting him in a lineup with Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters, would give the Orioles a potential 20 home run hitter in seven of the nine spots.
Signing Santana would create a logjam of starters and enable the Orioles to trade for a DH.
Morales was the most attractive DH candidate on the market in November, and he’s still the most attractive today.
It’s time for the Orioles to close the deal with Morales and settle the DH question for this year.