Orioles want another big hitter. Is one available?

Orioles want another big hitter. Is one available?
November 8, 2013, 11:15 am
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Even if Nate McLouth re-signs with the Orioles, they’re looking for help at bat. McLouth is looking for a two-year contract, and the Orioles may be loath to grant him one.

He figures to have lots of suitors in the free agent market because there don’t seem to be many attractive outfielders or designated hitters.

One name the Orioles have been linked with is Kendrys Morales, who MLBTradeRumors.com ranks as the 28th most attractive player on the free agent market.

Morales is 30, and has played only three complete major league seasons, but those are excellent years.

Four years ago with the Angels, Morales hit 34 home runs, drove in 108 runs and hit .306. After he came back from his celebratory broken leg, Morales has 45 homers and driven in 153 runs for Los Angeles and Seattle over the past two seasons. He’s hit .273 and .277.

Morales would fit nicely with the Orioles except the Mariners dropped a qualifying offer on him, and Dan Duquette isn’t overly fond about losing draft choices.

Scott Boras is Morales’ agent. He also represents Matt Wieters and Chris Davis, too. For an estimated two-year, $28 million deal, it could work.

However, Boras told ESPN’s Keith Law in a Thursday podcast that the switch-hitting Morales is “clearly a good first baseman.” If the uberagent is going to try and sell Morales as a DH and first baseman, he may have a rough time with the Orioles.

Without the qualifying offer hindrance, the Orioles might be more eager to bite on Morales. But, the Orioles have a hole at DH, and another in left field, and no power hitting prospects in the minors.

That gives the Orioles the impetus to make an offer on Morales as well as act aggressively on an extension for Chris Davis. But, if Morales wants to play some first base, he’s probably not going to do it with the Orioles

In 2011, the Orioles had an everyday DH, Vladimir Guerrero, and manager Buck Showalter didn’t like his inability to play the field. In 2012 and 2013 there were a host of designated hitters.

There are 15 left fielders on MLBTradeRumors’ list, including McLouth, Michael Morse and Chris Dickerson.

Most are not terribly tantalizing. For example: Jason Bay, Laynce Nix, Trevor Crowe, Reed Johnson and Darnell McDonald.

Jason Kubel, who the Orioles had interest in at other times, had a horrid 2013, a year after hitting 30 home runs and driving in 90. David Murphy saw his batting average drop 84 points to .220.

The Orioles could buy Kubel or Murphy on the cheap, let McLouth go to a higher bidder and hope that perhaps Henry Urrutia could play some left field next year.

Foxsports.com’s Ken Rosenthal says that the Dodgers would be interested in dealing Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, all of whom have enormous contractual obligations.

Take Ethier, who has four years and $69 million left on his deal. He has creditable numbers, but slumped last year to 12 home runs and 52 RBIs. He has a robust lifetime on-base percentage of .362, something that Duquette could admire.

He played his first eight games in left field in four years in 2013. Ethier has spent most of his time in right and center, two areas that are more than adequately patrolled by Nick Markakis and Adam Jones.

I’m not sure what the Orioles could offer Los Angeles for Ethier, but perhaps it will be discussed at next week’s general managers’ meetings in Orlando. The Dodgers would presumably have to help the Orioles shoulder much of the financial load of Ethier’s contract.