The Orioles have focused their search for outfield help on Colby Rasmus, so much so that manager Buck Showalter is set to meet with the free-agent outfielder in the near future, according to an industry source.
No deal with Rasmus -- who is the top outfielder remaining on the free-agent market -- is imminent, and while the Orioles have bona-fide interest in him, it appears that Showalter must first be assured that Rasmus will fit within the clubhouse before negotiations go any further.
Rasmus, 28, is coming of a season in which he hit just .225/.287/.448 and lost his job as the Blue Jays' starting center fielder in September. Rasmus doesn't have a great reputation in the clubhouse, and he is known as a player who hasn't gotten the most out of his talent.
But given the depleted number of outfield options, the Orioles want to judge for themselves. Showalter had face-to-face conversations with other free agents with question marks -- outfielders Nelson Cruz and Delmon Young -- and decided they would fit before the Orioles signed both players last offseason.
The Orioles believe Rasmus can help them on the field, and they have done their homework on him off the field and received a mixed review.
So now, Showalter will see for himself. He is currently scheduled to fly to visit with Rasmus at his home in Phenix City, Ala. The visit, which is expected to occur over the next few days, will be Showalter's opportunity to assess Rasmus' character.
No offer has been made to Rasmus, but the Orioles are considering a one-year deal that would allow Rasmus an opportunity to raise his stock and his reputation in 2015 before hitting free agency again after next season with a better chance of receiving a long-term deal.
Rasmus has shown interest in coming to Baltimore, and the club believes he could be signed for a deal in the range of $6 million to $8 million, which would be a relative bargain.
It would be much like the Orioles' one-year deal with Cruz last season.
Cruz was coming off a season in which he served a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal and also was tied to draft-pick compensation, so he didn't receive the multiyear deal that he was seeking.
Cruz signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles, and he went on to lead the league in home runs, spring-boarding him to a four-year deal with the Seattle Mariners.
Showalter met with Cruz before the Orioles signed him to a one-year deal in February, and he also sat down with Young -- who has had various issues in the past -- during a January tryout with the team before the sides agreed to a minor league deal.
Young meshed well in the clubhouse and contributed on the field. He re-signed with the club on a one-year, $2.25-million deal last week.
Rasmus, a former first-round pick who has three career 20-homer seasons, hit 18 in 104 games last season. But he is only a career .246/.313/.438 hitter over six major league seasons.
All but seven of his major league starts have been in center field, but the club believes he can make a smooth transition to the corner outfield spots.