Nelson Cruz remains the biggest offensive threat left on the free agent market and despite few public rumblings it appears as though a market might finally be starting to develop. Jeff Wilson of the Ft. Worth Star Telegram spoke with Cruz recently, mostly about his feelings about leaving the Texas Rangers after eight seasons, and learned that the slugger has received interest from four teams.
Unsurprisingly it doesn’t appear as though Cruz mentioned which teams were in the mix.
Cruz hit .266/.327/.506 in 456 PA this past season, adding 27 HR and an All Star Game selection. Cruz also missed 50 games, serving a suspension relating to his involvement with BioGenesis and performance enhancing drugs. Texas did extend a qualifying offer following the season, which he declined, but the Rangers had still been open to re-signing him up until they brought in Shin-Soo Choo before Christmas. Unlike others involved with BioGenesis who served suspensions this past season (i.e Jhonny Peralta, who signed early this offseason with the St. Louis Cardinals – four years, $52 Million) there has been little movement to date on a potential new home for Cruz.
Options have been difficult to predict for Cruz.
The Seattle Mariners have been a popular choice, particularly following their decision to sign Robinson Cano to such a lucrative contract. Adding Cruz’ power would go a long way to supplement Cano’s all around affect on the lineup could make a big difference for this Mariners team. Some of the speculatory talk died down following the team’s subsequent additions of Corey Hart and Logan Morrison. There doesn’t appear to be a logical place to slide Cruz into the lineup, barring another move (or two) to shuffle some existing pieces. That said, if the price is right there’s little reason for the Mariners not to make such a move if they truly want to contend in what is looking like a very competitive division.
There has also been brief word linking Cruz to the Baltimore Orioles, who could perhaps benefit most from adding his bat into their lineup. Baltimore has seen success under Buck Showalter and has talented pieces in that lineup (Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters) but the group has long been missing that one big bat in the middle. Chris Davis appears to have emerged this past season, so perhaps that need is somewhat mitigated. Baltimore is believed to be hesitant to part with their 1st Round draft pick, however, which might take them out of the mix.
The Kansas City Royals could be an option, though they might need to move Billy Butler in a separate deal first to make payroll room. An argument could be made that he could fit with the Colorado Rockies, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, or Detroit Tigers as well – though there are varying reasons why each may appear unlikely. Some won’t part with the draft pick that’s attached to him while others will only have interest if the deal is on the right terms.