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Orioles designated hitter Nelson Cruz during workouts the day before Game 1 of the 2014 ALCS against the Kansas City Royals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Orioles designated hitter Nelson Cruz during workouts the day before Game 1 of the 2014 ALCS against the Kansas City Royals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. (H. Darr Beiser / USA Today Sports)

Speaking publicly for the first time since becoming a free agent, Nelson Cruz re-emphasized that remaining with the Orioles is his top priority.

In an interview with MLB Network Radio on Wednesday afternoon, Cruz said there have been discussions with the Orioles, but none he would describe as serious.

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"No doubt it's my first choice," Cruz said. "I'd love to be back. I understand the business. I know they're interested in bringing me back. Hopefully we can work something out. I love everything about the city. I love my teammates. I love the organization. The way they treat their players is amazing. If we can work something, I'd be more than happy to come back."

The Orioles made Cruz, who led the major leagues with a career-high 40 home runs this season, a qualifying offer for of $15.3 million for 2015. He has until Monday to accept the offer, but it appears he will decline it in pursuit of a multiyear deal.

Cruz, 34, was asked whether he would accept a three-year deal from the Orioles over a four-year deal elsewhere to remain in Baltimore.

"You have to look at all the [factors] and see what kind of deals they are and everything," Cruz said. "When the decision comes [it will be] whatever I think is going to be better for me and my family, but no doubt one of my first choices would be Baltimore."

Cruz said the Orioles also remain his top choice because he believes they will stay competitive and he wants to play for a winner.

"No doubt, win," Cruz said when asked his top priority in selecting his next team. "That's why I made the choice to go to Baltimore. I knew a lot of the players there, Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, Darren O' Day and no doubt Buck [Showalter]. Also what I think they had at the moment, and I think they [still] have is a winning team.

"I wanted to be in the playoffs, and I wanted to experience that part of [being on] a winning team. That's what you're looking for. No doubt it's one of my goals."

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