Orioles remain interested in free-agent pitcher Ervin Santana

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Orioles might not be done upgrading their starting rotation.

Days after signing free-agent starter Ubaldo Jimenez, the Orioles are still interested in another top free-agent starter – right-hander Ervin Santana.

According to an industry source, the Orioles have had dialogue with Santana’s representatives as recently as Thursday.

This week, the Orioles signed Jimenez to a four-year, $50-million deal, which is the longest and largest contract for a free-agent pitcher in franchise history.

The addition of Jimenez also conceivably slotted out all five spots in the rotation, as he joins Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez and Bud Norris.

The addition of Santana would further muddle the rotation picture.

The Orioles already lost this year’s first-round pick (17th overall) in signing Jimenez through the qualifying offer compensation process. Santana is also tied to draft-pick compensation, so the club would lose its second-round pick (55th overall) if it signs him.

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said Thursday that he would consider additional draft-pick compensation free-agents on a case-by-case basis.

Santana, 31, was 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA 32 starts last season with the Kansas City Royals. Like Jimenez, he’s built up a reputation of durability, making at least 30 starts in five of his past six seasons. He has pitched at least 200 innings in three of his past four seasons.

CBSSports.com first reported that the Orioles remain interested in Santana.

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