Sources: Orioles closing in on a deal for Nelson Cruz

Free agent slugger Nelson Cruz is close to a deal with the Orioles, according to people familiar with the deal.

The Cruz signing, once finalized, would be the second major signing within days for Baltimore, which is obviously going for it now. The Orioles will have one of the better lineups in baseball once Cruz is in the fold.

There are still a couple issues to be resolved, according to sources, though a deal looks extremely likely.

The Orioles also had been talking to Kendrys Morales, another free agent hitter. Morales had other opportunities, though, including the Mariners and possibly the Pirates.

Reports suggested Morales was a strong possibility throughout the day Friday, but Orioles decision makers were "split" on Cruz vs. Morales, Roch Kubatko of MASN @masnRoch reported  Friday night. One possible difference is that Cruz may not have had many other alternatives.

The Orioles also have remained in contact with top free-agent pitcher Ervin Santana, though it hasn't known how a Cruz signing would affect a possible Santana deal.

Cruz had 27 home runs with 76 RBI and a .266 batting average in barely more than two-thirds of a season last year, yet like a lot of other free agents who had qualifying offers and thus a draft choice attached, found the free-agent market slow. Cruz has an excellent clubhouse reputation, but he also had the Biogenesis-related PED suspension last year that cost him 50 games and hurt the Rangers' playoff chances.

Cruz was one of the top hitters on the free agent market but his free agency was clearly affected by the draft choice. The Mets were among teams to show early interested before opting for Curtis Granderson. The Orioles were willing to give up a second-round pick after surrendering the first-rounder for top starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez.

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