The Orioles have been pretty quiet at this week’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, but it sounds like that could change soon.
According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Orioles have made offers to outfielder Nelson Cruz and closer Grant Balfour. No word on the specifics, but the thought is that they are willing to offer Cruz something similar to Curtis Granderson’s four-year, $60 million deal with the Mets or even go above it if need be. The Orioles would have to give up their first-round pick (No. 17 overall) in order to sign him. As for Balfour, he will almost certainly require a multi-year agreement.
While Heyman writes that Balfour is Baltimore’s first choice to replace the recently-traded Jim Johnson as closer, they are monitoring the market for alternatives. On that note, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi hears that the club is still in discussions with Joaquin Benoit and John Axford. Former Indians closer Chris Perez is also a possibility.
UPDATE: Eddie A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun hears from a club source that the Orioles have not made an offer to Cruz. That’s the Winter Meetings for you.
UPDATE II: And now we have a second report, this time from Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com, that the Orioles haven’t made an offer to Cruz. They are said to be looking at other lefty bats.
The Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.
At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.
Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.
From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.
Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.