Final landing spot for Cruz remains unclear

A good summary of where things stand right now for Nelson Cruz. As my colleague Jesse Sanchez notes, the Orioles have been linked to Cruz and will continue to be as long as he’s available. However, the priority is on adding a starting pitcher and it seems Baltimore is allocating most –if not all–of its resources there. Things could change, but it doesn’t appear Cruz is very high on the Orioles, either.

Here’s the story…

Jesse Sanchez/MLB.com

The Rangers have given away Nelson Cruz’s old jersey number to free agent acquisition Shin-Soo Choo, but have not completely ruled out the idea of bringing the one-time fan favorite back to Texas on a club-friendly deal.
There is some speculation that Cruz, 33, who is seeking a multi-year deal, might settle for a one-year contract with his former club if he cannot land a large deal with another team. The Mariners and Orioles are among the teams that have been linked to the right-handed slugger.
Overall, Cruz hit .266 with 27 home runs and 76 RBIs in 109 games and 413 at-bats for the Rangers last season. He had a .327 on-base percentage and a .506 slugging percentage before he was suspended by Major League Baseball for 50 games for violating the Basic Agreement and its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment program as a result of the league’s Biogenesis investigation.
Teams interested in Cruz must also consider that the veteran turned down the Rangers’ qualifying offer of $14.1 million in November, which means Texas would receive a Draft pick as compensation if he signs elsewhere.
“I’ve had a lot of discussions with Adam Katz, his agent,” Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said at FanFest last weekend. “There’s an economic factor tied to that, as well as losing your Draft pick. Would I like to have him here? Absolutely. I’d love to have Nelson Cruz in this lineup. But how much do you have to pay him, how many years is it going to be and are you willing to lose another Draft pick? Those are the things you have to factor.”
Zduriencik added that he’s not expecting any more “major moves” this offseason, but his club could still have a need for a right-handed bat in the lineup, even with newly acquired outfielder Corey Hart on the roster. As it stands now, the Mariners have four left-handed-hitting outfielders — Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders, Abraham Almonte and Logan Morrison — with Franklin Gutierrez and utility man Willie Bloomquist as the only right-handed options.
The Mariners could add to their estimated $85 million payroll, but some suggest the club would prefer to opt for a shorter deal with a player like Cruz — especially after signing Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240 million deal this winter. The team still owes about $150 million to staff ace Felix Hernandez.
The Orioles have expressed interest in Cruz and could potentially slot him into the designated hitter role, but the team’s payroll constraints and the need for another starting pitcher work against Cruz. Like the Rangers and the Mariners, the Orioles could offer a shorter deal to Cruz in order to keep their payroll — currently around $80 million — under $100 million and still sign a pitcher.
The Rangers are prepared to move on without Cruz. The team is expected to start Choo in left field, Leonys Martin in center field and Alex Rios in right field with Michael Choice providing roster depth.

3 Comments

Why would Cruz be interested in the Orioles. He would probably flunk the physical anyway. We know the Orioles are not interested because he would cost to much. Giving away a draft choice who may or may not help in 5 years i guess is also in play. Lets see, the Orioles went into this off season needing a designated hitter, a top rotation arm, a closer and a left fielder. So far, Delmon Young will probably platoon at DH, no starter, no closer and no left fielder. I hear so much of David Lough, but he is a younger Nate Mclouth and again a cheap alternative. Jim Johnson was traded for insignificant players, which left a closer hole. We know what happened to Balfour, healthy enough for the Rays. Tyler Colvin failing physical was of little or no consequence because he was just another one of Duquettes bargain basement deals. I’m still awaiting Duquette’s master plan to come to fruition.

Why don’t the Orioles just sign Cruz and Morales and Jimenez and get it over with. Bronson would also look good in an Orioles uniform. Come on Dan make it happen. Barry Zitto would look nice too. Welcome back to the AL.

Your idea is a very good one. But you must remember the Orioles are not a very proactive team in free agency. Giving up prospects is a big thing to a lot of teams, but my philosophy is that if you can sign a top free agent why worry about a draft choice who may or may not help you five years down the line. Let us not forget that the Orioles have not been fortunate with their prospects. Only 3 starting position player are homegrown, Machado, Wieters and Markakis. There best starter came from the Seattle organization as did Adam Jones. Gausman and Bundy, tho highly touted may or may not excel. I agree that Arroyo would be a great addition, never on DL and is a guy with a winning history. Zito has had one wiinning season since 2008 and personally I would not touch him. Anyway, I seriously doubt any of the above will be in an Oriole uniform. So far, Duquette has shown himself to be an impotent GM. It is a shame because with the rite moves this team could be a serious contender.

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