Since signing right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, the Orioles have intensified their interest in free agent designated hitter Kendrys Morales, according to a source.

The Orioles have been linked to the switch-hitting designated hitter throughout the offseason, but didn't appear to be in serious negotiations previously. That pursuit seemingly has increased in seriousness, the source said, due to two developments.
One, the Orioles had been hesitant to forfeit their first-round pick – 17th overall – to sign Morales, but they instead forfeited it when agreeing to a four-year deal with Jimenez.

If they were to sign Morales now, the Orioles would surrender their second-rounder, roughly the 55th selection overall in 2014, which obviously is not as coveted as a first-round (or supplemental) pick.
Secondly, a shorter deal with an opt-out for Morales is potentially available for the Orioles now. Previously it was thought that the 30-year-old Morales was seeking a four- or five-year deal only, but now it appears that a two-year deal with an opt out after the first season could be in play.

That makes sense considering Morales’ agent, Scott Boras, has done multiple free-agent contracts with opt-out clauses in the past. Perhaps the most obvious comparison to Morales’ situation is third baseman Adrian Beltre, who left pitcher-friendly Seattle as a free agent following a down 2009 season. Boras negotiated a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox for Beltre with a player option for 2011.
Beltre had a tremendous year with the Red Sox – winning a Silver Slugger Award and finishing ninth in the AL MVP – before choosing to re-enter the free-agent market that winter. The gamble paid off and Beltre landed a five-year $80 million deal with the Texas Rangers.
One other thing that makes an opt-out contract with the Orioles logical is that if Morales were to leave the Orioles after a strong 2014 season, the club would undoubtedly offer him a qualifying offer. If Morales rejected it – which he obviously would if he were choosing to opt out – the Orioles would get a compensation pick after the first round the following year.