Orioles “intensifying their interest” in Kendrys Morales

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Along with reports this morning that the Orioles are still interested in Ervin Santana even after signing Ubaldo Jimenez, now Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that they’re also “intensifying their interest” in free agent first baseman Kendrys Morales.

Now that the Orioles have already lost their first-round draft pick to sign Jimenez the prospect of losing later draft picks for other free agents isn’t as costly. Their next draft pick to lose is 54th overall.

According to Connolly the switch-hitter is now willing to take a two-year deal–perhaps with an opt-out clause after this season–after previously wanting four or five years.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.