Orioles talk to Morales and Cruz; Mariners, Pirates also eye Kendrys

The Orioles are getting more serious about adding a hitter, as they continue to talk to Kendry Morales, while Morales appears to have other options, with the Mariners and perhaps Pirates eying him, as well.

Baltimore seems likely to land either Morales or Cruz. Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun suggested the Morales pursuit was "intensifying." Seattle is also in the mix for Morales, according to people close to the situation.four days ago

Although at least those two teams seem quite interested in Morales, the Morales process is said by someone familiar with the talks  not believed to be nearing conclusion 

It was reported by CBSSports.com that the Orioles are also still in contact with free-agent pitcher Ervin Santana, even after inking Ubaldo Jimenez to a $50-million, four-year deal. Baltimore only would lose a second-round pick with its next big free-agent signing and appears focused on strengthening a very good team while it has the window with stars Chris Davis and Matt Wieters on the roster; both are free agents after next season.

The Pirates, reluctant to surrender their first-round draft pick to sign a free agent, have been concentrating mainly on trade targets this winter. But they are now at least eying Morales, sources suggest.

While Cruz has been on Seattle's radar, at least in the case of Seattle one Mariners-connected person suggested they should be much happier to re-sign Morales, who proved he could hit in Safeco Field (23 home runs and 80 RBI) rather than importing a player whose performed best in Arlington, Texas.

The interest of the Orioles and Mariners was mentioned here a few days ago.

Morales may make more sense for Baltimore, too, considering he is a career .413 hitter at Camden Yards, with a 1.177 OPS. Morales also batted .364 with a .972 OPS last year vs. the rest of the A.L. East. Cruz, meanwhile, hit .195 with a .714 OPS against the other four A.L. East teams. Cruz hit .240 overall away from Arlington, with a .730 OPS.

The Pirates are a longer shot in this derby for Morales than the other two teams, but they are interested in upgrading at first base, currently manned by Gaby Sanchez and Andrew Lambo.

Morales has begun spring training by continuing to work out at the Boras Sports Training Institute, and while he took today off, he is due to rejoin free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew there on Monday.

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