The Orioles met Tuesday with free agent outfielder-designated hitter Nelson Cruz and his agent at the general managers' meetings in Phoenix, an industry source confirmed Wednesday morning.
The source described the meeting, which was the first face-to-face meeting between the Orioles and Cruz's new agent, Diego Bentz, since the offseason began, as cordial.
Cruz, who is believed to be currently seeking a four-year deal, is at the general managers' meetings. He and Bentz are expected to meet with a number of teams in Phoenix.
Cruz rejected the Orioles' qualifying offer of a one-year, $15.3 million deal Monday, so the club will receive a draft pick if the 34-year-old veteran signs elsewhere. However, the Orioles have expressed interest in retaining him since before free agency started last week.
Cruz initially was seeking a five-year deal from the Orioles, according to a source. According to an ESPN report, the Orioles made Cruz a three-year offer before he officially became a free agent. Fox Sports first reported that the Orioles and Cruz's representation met in Phoenix on Tuesday.
The Orioles also have yet to meet with free-agent right fielder Nick Markakis' agent, Jamie Murphy, at the general managers' meetings, but they hope to do so at some point this week in Phoenix, according to a source. Murphy was scheduled to meet with other teams at the meetings, the first time he’d engaged teams other than the Orioles.
Duquette wouldn’t discuss the specifics of meeting with any free agents Wednesday, but he said he believes the club is laying the groundwork for the offseason this week in Phoenix.
"We’re meeting with teams and seeing where we match up with possible trades,” Duquette said. “We’ve also met with a few free agents who we have interest in. We haven’t gotten anything done yet, but we’re seeing who we are compatible with. ...
"At the end of the year, we said we wanted to sign some players currently on the team. Now some of those players are free agents."