The Orioles have been oft-connected to free agent slugger Kendrys Morales this offseason, but Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the club's interest in the switch-hitting Scott Boras client has picked up in the past few days.
The reason for Baltimore's heightened interest is twofold, according to Connolly. First, the Orioles' reluctance to part with their first-round pick is no longer a concern, as they forfeited the No. 17 overall selection in order to sign Ubaldo Jimenez earlier this week. Secondly, while Morales had previously been seeking a deal for as many as four or five years in length, Connolly's sources now indicate that Morales and Boras would be willing to settle for a short-term deal with an opt-out clause. Connolly writes that the Orioles may even be able to land Morales on a two-year deal with an opt-out after the first season.
Such a deal is essentially a one-year deal, with a player option tacked on to serve as a safety net in the event that Morales gets hurt or struggles in his first season with Baltimore. Connolly likens the deal to another one-year deal/player option negotiated by Scott Boras -- Adrian Beltre's 2010 contract with the Red Sox. Like Beltre, Morales is looking to leave Seattle's pitcher-friendly environment in hope of demonstrating his power skills in a more hitter-friendly setting.
Should a one-year deal and player option be reached, Baltimore would almost certainly make a qualifying offer to Morales were he to opt out, which could restart this entire draft pick compensation cycle for Morales and Boras (in that instance, he would likely be coming off a season with better numbers, however). As such, Connolly looks at the situation as potentially forfeiting a second-round pick in 2014 (No. 55 overall) to move up a round higher in the 2015 draft by adding an additional pick via Morales' departure.