The Orioles appeared to be hesitant to sign a free agent attached to draft compensation earlier this offseason, but after taking the initial plunge, Baltimore might be more inclined to dip into the qualified player pool again.
Ubaldo Jimenez has agreed to a deal with the Orioles, pending a physical ... but his presence doesn't appear to be enough to deter the team from pursuing the market's other draft-tethered starter -- Ervin Santana. According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the team has remained in contact with Santana.
Santana, 31, is easily the best remaining starter in free agency.
Last season, he bounced back from an atrocious 2012 season with Angels by posting a 3.24 ERA in 211 innings with the Royals. Kauffman Stadium played a considerable role in Santana's decrease in home runs allowed, but his new park wasn't the only change that resulted in a better performance.
Santana began mixing his pitches and employing a sinker, with which he was able to induce a 57 percent ground ball rate. Over the course of his nine-year career, the right hander has seen a wide variety of results, but he's been able to stay relatively healthy, and could present the Orioles with a significant number of innings if the team decides to sign him.
In Baltimore, Santana wouldn't have the same kind of pitcher-friendly environment he had last year, and the O's would be forced to forfeit another draft pick -- No. 55 overall -- to acquire him. However, general manager Dan Duquette said his team would be more likely to sign a second qualified free agent if they made the initial decision to surrender their first-round pick. Baltimore's draft budget could be slashed by nearly 50 percent if they sign another such player, but the team might not see a diminished draft budget as a significant enough consequence to pass on another impact player.