There's no secret that the Orioles are interested in acquiring first baseman-outfielder Michael Morse from the Nationals, but they aren't the only ones.
Now that the Nationals have re-signed first baseman Adam LaRoche to a two-year deal, the Nats are now reportedly open to shopping Morse, who will become a free agent after the 2013 season. LaRoche's deal was the chip that needed to fall before any discussion regarding Morse intensified.
During the MLB winter meetings, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said he was open to being trade partners with the Nationals, even though the teams share the same regional market.
"I can also see the advantage of trading for a player that's already established in your market ... that a lot of your fans are familiar with," Duquette said at the winter meetings. "So I would see that as an opportunity. ... I would look at it more as a National League trade than a division trade."
Having said that, it might take too much to make a deal. The Nationals' wish list includes young pitching, including a left-handed reliever. The Orioles are willing to offer up some of their young arms not named Bundy or Gausman, but given the interest that Morse will draw -- at least a half-dozen teams have interest -- Washington will have its choice of offers.
The Nats' asking price will likely be high -- it appeared to be too high for the Orioles back in December -- and expect that to rise with the number of suitors because after all, they don't definitively need to deal Morse.
Basically, consider the Nats in the driver's seat.
And watch for the Orioles to be even more cautious in dealing with the Nationals. Morse, who hit 49 homers over the past two seasons, would fill the team's need for a middle-of-the-order power bat nicely. But considering the fact that acquiring Morse could be no more than a one-year rental, the Orioles can't afford to deal a young player to Washington and have to watch him flourish inside the D.C. beltway for years to come.
Morse, who will be 31 on Opening Day, will make $6.75 million in 2013.
-- Also of note, according to a team spokesperson, the Orioles will not raise single-game ticket prices in 2013. Last month, they sent an email to season ticket holders saying those prices would also not increase this season. Single-game tickets will go on sale at FanFest on Jan. 19.
-- Kim Seong Min, the South Korean left-hander who sparked a national firestorm when the Orioles signed him at age 17 without conducting the proper status check, will reportedly attend and pitch at Fukuoka University in Japan. The pitcher had been suspended from pitching in South Korea.