Orioles willing to cough up a draft pick to sign a top free agent
Memo to the representatives for the free agents who declined qualifying offers and have not yet signed: call Dan Duquette. According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Orioles are willing to cough up their first-round pick.

Reports over the past few weeks have indicated that the Orioles are actively seeking ways to upgrade their roster, with as much as $17 million still to spend. They have since added Korean free agent Suk-Min Yoon, who agreed to a three-year, $5.75 million deal that could rise to $13 million if he notches incentives tied to games started. But two other targets landed elsewhere, with A.J. Burnett joining the Phillies and Fernando Rodney heading to the Mariners. Duquette has plenty of cash in his wallet, and he’s running out of non-qualified free agents on whom to spend it.

Rosenthal believes that Duquette would prefer to bring in a starting pitcher, an assertion that jibes with earlier reports that the Orioles were hoping to ink two arms rather than a hitter like Nelson Cruz or Kendrys Morales. The two candidates, as far as top-shelf free agents go, are Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana. Either would cost the Orioles the 17th-overall selection in the June draft.

Duquette told Rosenthal that the Orioles, unlike other clubs, are open-minded with regard to their top pick, because they have managed to stock their farm both internationally and with later-round draft picks. Although the top three prospects on their top 10 list were all top-25 draftees, only one of the next seven (outfielder Josh Hart, no. 10, whom they plucked in the sandwich round last year) went in the first round of the draft. All three of their “On the Rise” prospects are also international signings or post-first-round selections.

In tandem with his perception that the Orioles’ window of competition is temporarily open, Duquette’s confidence in his scouts could wash away the bitter taste of tacking the no. 17 pick onto the cost of a contract for Jimenez or Santana. Either right-hander would deepen what is currently a shallow rotation, giving Kevin Gausman a bit more time to develop and providing insurance in case one of the top incumbents goes down.

Brewers will approach Jean Segura about long-term extension
From injuries to Ryan Braun’s suspension to the revolving door at first base, not a lot of things went right for the Brewers in 2013. But one thing could scarcely have gone better: the breakout campaign delivered by shortstop Jean Segura.

The 23-year-old, whom the Brewers acquired from the Angels in the Zack Greinke trade on July 27, 2012, enjoyed what might have been a fluky power surge in the first half but wound up contributing 5.9 WARP to Ron Roenicke’s squad even though the pop faded. Eleven of Segura’s 12 homers and eight of his 10 triples came before the All-Star break, when his OPS stood at .849; it wound up at .752 after a .583 skid down the stretch. But if one year of metrics is to be believed, his defense at shortstop was worth 23.5 runs above average, more than enough to overcome the summertime swoon in his first full big-league season.

Now, the Brewers are keen to reward Segura with some guaranteed money—provided it makes sense for the club in the long run. SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo heard from a source over the weekend that general manager Doug Melvin will touch base with agent Joe Klein sometime during spring training. The sides spoke last May about a commitment that would have extended into Segura’s free agent years, but Klein appeared reluctant to enter serious negotiations. Melvin will hope that he’s more receptive this time around.

The key in any talks might be the extent to which the sides believe that Segura’s first-half performance is attainable going forward. If they see eye-to-eye on the significance of both the breakout and the subsequent regression, a long-term pact might be in the cards. Otherwise, Segura—who at one year and 65 days of service time is still two years away from arbitration—might prefer to take his time.

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Guess that Oriole rumor was right on the money: the O's just signed Ubaldo Jimenez.
I don't get the Segura extension talk, nor do I get why Segura himself is the one who "might prefer to take his time". Everything about his performance in 2013 screams "career year" to me, or rather, "career half year". For the second half of the year, he wasn't a much superior player to, uh, Pete Kozma -- who is definitely not someone you want to offer an extension to. Doesn't it make more sense from the Brewers' perspective to at least wait one more year to do this, just to avoid unpleasant surprises?