BALTIMORE -- It's the end of a season and the end of an era. Melvin Mora, the longest-tenured member of the Orioles, likely played his last game for the franchise on Sunday afternoon. The Orioles hold an option year on Mora's contract, but aren't expected to exercise it, leaving the veteran in a reflective mood.
Mora, who was acquired from the Mets in 2000, characterized himself as "an emotional guy" and said he would savor walking through the tunnel, seeing all the fans, and leaving the clubhouse for the last time. The two-time All-Star also said that he thought free agency would be exciting, and also a career first.
"Sometimes, you need to realize that this is a business," he said. "If you have to go, you have to go."
Whenever Mora leaves the Orioles, he will have made a major mark. The 37-year-old ranks in the top 10 of the franchise record book in games played, at-bats, runs, RBIs, hits and total bases. He's played more games at third base than all but one player -- icon Brooks Robinson -- and has played for four Baltimore managers.
"When I got here, they told me, 'We're rebuilding here. We're going to have a competitive team,' " said Mora. "You get to a point when a player gets expensive. You make a lot of money. Some people want to save money and some people want to rebuild, like the Orioles. Compared with when I got here, it's a big difference, because that year there were a lot of veteran players. Will Clark was still here. Harold Baines. Delino DeShields. All those guys. Albert Belle. Some big names, but now it's a lot different and it's a developing team."
"He's played a long time and his numbers are proven and will speak for themselves," added manager Dave Trembley. "He will go down as one of the top Orioles thirdbaseman of all time. And he's got the numbers to back it up."
Mora, who remains in superb physical condition, said he would like to play a few more years. And when asked what he'd be looking for in the next team that signs him, he said that he's "99.5 percent" sure he'd like to play for a contender. If he has his way, he'd also like to go to a team that can play him every day.
The Venezuela native came up as a utility man before specializing at third base, and he said Sunday that he'd go back to that role if it would help him win a World Series title. Mora has stated in the past that he'd like to stay on the East Coast, but he's aware that he may have to make some sacrifices to find the best fit.
"It's kind of hard when you're going to go to a utility guy, go back to what you were after you've had all those great years at one position," he said. "In my mind, I'm not thinking about utility guy, because I can still go strong for a long time. If there's a team that's going to give me a chance to play every day and prove that I can knock in another 100 like last year. If I could play every day, it doesn't matter where. I have the ability to play the outfield and the infield, so it's no problem. I just need to grab a glove."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.