Impending free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz told reporters today that he has been engaged in preliminary extension talks with the Orioles since the All-Star break, echoing a report from CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman that there is mutual interest between Cruz and the O's on an extension past this season. Cruz stressed that talks between the sides have not yet been serious, but that he would love to stay in Baltimore instead of heading elsewhere on the free agent market.
Cruz, who was hurt by the qualifying offer system last winter, signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles in spring training in hopes of putting up big numbers that would lead to another crack at a multi-year deal after the season. The 34-year old has been excellent for Baltimore this season, posting a .256/.324/.510 line while hitting 34 home runs and 88 RBI on his way to his third All-Star appearance.
Cruz will likely draw interest from any team looking for right-handed power this offseason (that's almost all of them), so it may be a smart play to wait until all of his options are presented to him once the Orioles' exclusive negotiating window expires after the postseason. If the Orioles make a large enough offer that will keep him in Baltimore for a few years at a high price, he seems inclined to take that deal due to his familiarity with the organization and desire to stay with the Orioles.