Having thus far missed out on the opportunity to sign every free agent starting pitcher on the planet, are the Orioles now turning to signing a new designated hitter for the team? According to Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun, there's at least a little something going on between the O's and Kendrys Morales right now:
#Orioles remain interested in free-agent Kendrys Morales and continue to be in contact with his reps, according to an industry source.— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) February 12, 2014
There's that magic word once again - "interested." We've heard that one many times before this offseason and in pretty much every case it's ended up amounting to absolutely nothing.
Eventually, it's got to mean something. That's actually not true at all; it could continue to mean absolutely nothing. As usual, there's no indication this source is at all connected to the Orioles. The source could be Morales' agent, Scott Boras, trying to drum up some interest in a guy who's dying on the vine out there in free agency. You never really know.
Morales is one of the players who would cost the Orioles' first round pick. So the debate rages: Is he worth that cost? He is now a 31-year-old designated hitter who has played 100+ games only three times in eight years since debuting in MLB. He is coming off a season where he had a .277/.336/.449 batting line in Seattle, though that's good for a 123 OPS+, probably because Safeco Field is not a high-offense environment.
Even considering the Safeco effect, that's 81 points of OPS higher than the Orioles got from their DH spot in the lineup in the 2013 season. If he approaches that level of production, that would be quite the upgrade for the team. A switch-hitter, Morales has had fairly even platoon splits, meaning that another way he could provide value would be that the O's would not need to have a platoon just for the designated hitter spot in the lineup. The extra 50 points of on-base percentage would be welcome in the lineup.
As for the years and dollars, it's almost beyond the point where it's worth caring about by now. What else are they going to spend it on? We've already been told they aren't going to be splashing at the top of the free agent market, and from this offseason, it sure looks like they're going to get outbid on nearly every mid-tier free agent they may actually like, too.
So we, the fans, talk ourselves into settling for Morales. Maybe at this point the price will come down enough to make it a bit more palatable. And having done that, a Morales signing with the O's probably won't happen anyway, because that's how this offseason goes.