The Baltimore Orioles, one of two mid-Atlantic teams searching for a first baseman, along with the Washington Nationals, have reportedly turned their attention toward Derrek Lee after negotiating with Adam LaRoche's agent last week according to reports but failing to agree on a deal. Baltimore Sun writer Jeff Zreibec reports this morning in an article entitled, "Orioles show renewed interest in Lee", that it's unclear why the 31-year-old left-handed hitting first baseman has yet to sign with the O's, "...whether the holdup is LaRoche’s reported insistence on a three-year deal while the Orioles would prefer not making that long of a commitment, or the player simply having better, more lucrative offers and not wanting to play in Baltimore." If he has a better offer, according to Mr. Zreibec's reporting it would have to be coming from thirty minutes south of Camden Yards.
The Baltimore Sun writer notes elsewhere in the article that the O's competition for Lee and LaRoche is limited to San Diego, Arizona and Washington, but, "...it is believed that both LaRoche and Lee are out of the Padres’ and Diamondbacks’ price range." Lee played for $13 million last season in the final year of a 5-year/$65 million dollar deal he signed with Chicago in 2006, but recent reports, including one by FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) have the 35-year-old, 14-year veteran who's coming off an injury-plagued season and hoping for a return to form, " ...looking for 8M-10M," on a one-year deal, which Mr. Rosenthal also said was probably "too high" a number for the Padres, "...but not necessarily [the] Nationals." LaRoche, according to a report entitled, "Ravens, LaRoche waiting game and O's look at Garcia", by MASNSports.com's Jen Royle, who played for $4.5M last year in Arizona, and was bought out for $1.5 when the D-Backs chose not to bring him back, is looking for a deal that, according to an anonymous source, "...is now a believed [to be for] three years, $21 million."
Both Baltimore beat writers end their discussions wondering where LaRoche expects to get another offer better than what the O's have on the table? MLB.com's Bill Ladson, last week, in an article entitled, "Nationals targeting Lee to fill first-base void", had the Nats turning to Lee to fill the void left by Adam Dunn's departure. According to Mr. Ladson, though LaRoche had expressed interest in playing for Washington and the Nats were once said to want a left-handed middle-of-the-order bat, "...talks don't appear to be serious between the two parties." Will the Nats go three years to get LaRoche, or count on a bounce-back campaign from Lee? Or hope that Michael Morse's breakout with the bat was just the start of something?