Report: Orioles still in discussions with free agent Kendrys Morales

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Slugger Kendrys Morales remains a free agent, and many in the industry expect him to remain a free agent until after the draft in early June, when the draft pick compensation attached to Morales would vanish. However, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that Morales and the Orioles have been in discussions. A deal is not expected any time soon, if at all.

The Orioles have been in discussions with free agent first baseman/DH Kendrys Morales at several points over the past few weeks, though there’s said to remain a fairly significant gap in negotiations to date and the likelihood of a deal is unknown.

Baltimore is said to have scouted Morales multiple times in recent weeks, as it has a clear interest in the switch-hitting slugger, according to sources. However, the diffrence in dollars seems to remain fairly clear, as well.

Heyman adds that while the specific dollar amounts aren’t known, the two sides were discussing one-year deals.

The Orioles lost some pop in their lineup when Chris Davis landed on the disabled list with a strained left oblique. Players are lucky if they need just the minimum 15 days to deal with an oblique injury, so the Orioles may be preparing for a longer stint on the DL. Having signed free agents Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez — with similarly-attached draft pick compensation —  in February, the Orioles showed they aren’t afraid to give up a draft pick to improve the team immediately.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.