Former Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz could receive an offer from the Seattle Mariners as early as later today, according to Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio (Twitter).
Bowden went on to say that he believes the top three destinations for Cruz are (in order): Seattle, Baltimore and Texas. He did note, however, that Texas would likely be a fallback option for the 33-year-old outfielder.
Last season, Cruz found himself in the mix of several players who were suspended for PED usage, resulting in the loss of 50 games for the Rangers outfielder. For the second consecutive year, Texas watched their division rivals, the Oakland Athletics, win the American League West.
Prior to his suspension, there is no doubt that Cruz played his part in keeping Texas in the thick of things, hitting 27 home runs and driving in 76 runs in just 109 games. His .266/.327/.506 slash line was right on cue with his career numbers of .268/.327/.495. Had he not missed the second half of the season due to his suspension, it appears he may have eclipsed the 100-RBI plateau for the first time in his big-league career.
His standout performance last year earned him his second All-Star nod of his career, but with Texas moving on, rumors have swirled around the outfielder for much of the offseason. More often than not, two teams – the Seattle Mariners and the Baltimore Orioles – have risen to the top of the pack.
Both teams desperately need added power in the middle of their respective lineups. After signing former New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano to a ten-year mega deal earlier this offseason, the Mariners need to add protection around him if they want to maximize his impact on the team’s offense.
A similar situation is present in Baltimore, where fans are crying out for some move to be made just two years after the team clinched a postseason berth, but no notable moves have been made. The team was reportedly close to signing former Oakland Athletics closer Grant Balfour earlier this offseason, but the deal fell through due to concerns with his physical. A similar situation arose in talks with outfielder Tyler Colvin, as well.
Ultimately, it appears as if new Mariners team president Kevin Mather will be more willing to pull the trigger on big deals. Not landing Cruz, or at least some type of offensive protection for Cano, could very well end up costing Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik his job is the team stumbles in 2014.