Third baseman Melvin Mora said he loves the city of Baltimore and loves playing for the Orioles, but that won't stop him from shopping his services if he is not given a contract extension before next season.
Mora, who next season will be in the final year of a three-year, $10.5 million deal, said he hopes the Orioles discuss an extension with him in the offseason, but he won't negotiate during the season.
"For me, if they don't talk to me before the season starts, I won't talk to anybody then," Mora said. "I don't want to get distracted talking about a contract."
Orioles Executive Vice President Jim Beattie, who is in the final year of his contract, declined to talk about the likelihood of talks with Mora.
"We like Melvin a lot," Beattie said. "But whether we proceed on that now or later we don't know."
Mora said he hopes to stay in Baltimore.
"I want to play with [shortstop Miguel] Tejada for the next four years," Mora said. "I'd like to stay in Baltimore, but I know this is a business, too. There are lots of teams that would be interested. But I'm going to give the first chance to Baltimore."
Last season Mora established himself as one of the premier third basemen in baseball and was vastly underpaid this season, making just $3.8 million.
"They came out ahead with that last contract," Mora said.
It could prove costly should the Orioles decide to wait until the end of next season to negotiate with Mora. That strategy has backfired this season with closer B.J. Ryan, who almost surely will sign elsewhere. Ryan had hoped to negotiate with the Orioles during this season for an extension but was put off by how Baltimore allowed the deadline he set to pass without a new deal.