Cruz, O's have had casual extension talks

Cruz, O's have had casual extension talks

BALTIMORE -- Nelson Cruz and the Orioles have had preliminary discussions about a potential extension, although the talks aren't considered serious in nature right now.

"I've been through this before," said Cruz, who declined the Rangers' qualifying offer this winter to become a free agent. "It's the owner's decision, the GM. But no doubt I'd like to stay."

Cruz said the two sides have had talks during the second half, although there's no indications that anything is close. Cruz is one of several big-name free agents for the O's this season, including shortstop J.J. Hardy and right fielder Nick Markakis, who are both younger and could be seen as less of a long-term risk.

Cruz, who has hit a career-high 34 homers, initially wanted a multi-year deal this winter, but his market dried up and -- after declining the $14.1 million qualifying offer -- he signed a one-year, $8 million deal with Baltimore in February.

"I think for me and the team, the best interest is to stay focused on what we got," Cruz said. "I don't want to be a distraction with stuff like that, with contracts. Even though, like you said, I would like it to be done before [the season ends]. But right now, my main goal is to go to the playoffs."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter echoed that sentiment.

"Obviously, Nelson's had a good year. I've known him for quite a while," Showalter said. "He's been a good teammate. Right now, we're focused on these next 30-odd games, and we'll see what the people who are responsible for that and do that for a living, I'll let them handle that. I'll concentrate on managing.

"I'm trying to stay out of the way, keep things going in a good direction. Nelson's one of the reasons we have this opportunity. We certainly would like to have that continue. If there comes a time they may ask me how I think things fit baseball-wise, but I'm going to keep out of the financial part of it because the further we play and the more we do, better chance, I guess."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.