Ervin Santana

Ervin Santana throws against the Boston Red Sox last season. (Jim Rogash / Getty Images / April 21, 2013)

SARASOTA, FLA. – The race for free-agent right-hander Ervin Santana appears to be nearing an end, and the Orioles remain in the fold for the top free-agent starting pitcher still available.

The Orioles are still in contact with Santana’s representation. The sides conversed as recently as late Tuesday afternoon, according to an industry source.

Santana is expected to select a team within the next day or two, according to the source. With less than three weeks before Opening Day, Santana needs to get into a camp to get ready for the season.

Over the weekend, the Toronto Blue Jays and Orioles emerged as the two frontrunners for Santana, who was 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA last season with the Kansas City Royals.

Both teams made Santana a one-year offer near the $14.1 million qualifying offer he declined this offseason. Unsatisfied with multiyear offers he was receiving, Santana has decided that he wants to ink a one-year deal so he can test the free-agent market again after this season.

The Atlanta Braves, their rotation suddenly beset by injuries to starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, have reportedly entered the race for Santana and could be the team in most need of a top-line starter this late in spring training.

Meanwhile, the Orioles’ initial one-year offer, which is believed to be around $13 million, has not changed, according to a source.

eencina@baltsun.com

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