SARASOTA, FLA. — The Orioles maintain interest in free-agent outfielder Colby Rasmus, but money currently appears to be a sticking point between the sides.
Rasmus, 28, is seeking a one-year deal for more than the $7 million he received in 2014 from the Toronto Blue Jays in his final year of arbitration eligibility, according to an industry source.
The Orioles, seeking a left-handed outfielder to help replace the void left by the losses of Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz, aren't comfortable with paying Rasmus more than that figure.
Rasmus is arguably the best option in a depleted market on free-agent outfielders, and he has emerged as the Orioles' top target.
But the club has been hoping to sign Rasmus to a more club-friendly, one-year deal that Rasmus could use as a platform to test the free-agent market again after next season with better hopes of landing a long-term deal.
Rasmus has averaged 21 home runs in the past three seasons while playing for the Blue Jays, but he batted just .225/.287/.448 last season in 104 games and lost his starting job at the end of the season when Toronto wanted to get a closer look at some of its young outfielders.
He hit just .195 against left-handed pitching last season and has a career .213 batting average against lefties. But he still hit 18 homers in 376 plate appearances last season. His career .313 on-base percentage doesn't necessarily help the Orioles fill the on-base capabilities left by Markakis.
The Orioles still feel that making a short-term investment on Rasmus could be wise. This year is the first time Rasmus has tested the free-agent market in his career, and after seeing the market dry up this offseason, the promise of a multiyear deal in 2016 following a strong season would seem to be enticing to him.
The market on Rasmus is unclear. The Orioles are obviously interested as manager Buck Showalter visited Rasmus last month to meet with him, and the club has made Rasmus an offer. Since then, the American League East division rival Tampa Bay Rays also were reported to have interest in Rasmus.
Around the horn
The Orioles are behind schedule in sending 2014 invoices to their season-ticket holders, but the club plans to finalize the invoices and are scheduled to mail them out shortly, according to a team spokesman. "We are in the final stages of the process and hope to have statements in the hands of our season plan holders soon," said Greg Bader, the team's vice president of communications and marketing. Last season, the Orioles raised season-ticket prices on all plans by an average of approximately 5 percent -- their first price hike since 2008 -- but it's unclear whether the team plans to raise ticket prices for 2015.