Orioles in on Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis

The Orioles are reportedly interested in bringing back both Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis, two key players from this season’s American League East championship team who are now free agents.

Baltimore offered Cruz a three-year contract before the slugger hit the open market, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney, but a deal was not reached. Now it appears the O’s will wait and see what happens with Cruz as he pursues his options with other clubs.

The Orioles have also been in contact with Markakis regarding a multi-year contract, Olney reports, but deferred money has been a holdup on that front. Markakis hit the open market for the first time in his career after the O’s declined their half of a mutual option at the end of October.

Cruz became a free agent after declining a $15.3 million qualifying offer on Monday. He also declined a qualifying offer from the Rangers last season, and did not sign with Baltimore until shortly before Spring Training started. Any club that signs Cruz would surrender a draft pick. He’s likely seeking a multi-year deal and should have a number of suitors coming off a strong season in which he led the Majors with 40 home runs.

The Mariners are one team that will target Cruz this offseason, writes MLB.com’s Greg Johns, and Seattle made a splash last winter by signing second baseman Robinson Cano and closer Fernando Rodney. Still, the Orioles figure to be near the top of the running for Cruz’s services.

–Austin Laymance

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