As the big free agent hitters continue to sign with teams, the picture for outfielder Nelson Cruz continues to get clearer by nature of the fact that fewer teams will be interested. There was a chance he would return to the Texas, but that obviously is no longer an option after the Rangers signed Shin-Soo Choo to a seven year, $130 million deal earlier today.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today suggests that this might nudge Cruz in the direction of the Seattle Mariners.
The #Mariners, it would seem, are now in prime position to sign Nelson Cruz with Choo going to Texas
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 21, 2013
In a season that was shortened to 109 games because of a 50 game suspension, Cruz still posted a .266/.327/.506 season with 27 home runs and 76 RBI for the Rangers in 2013. In his five full seasons as a big league player, Cruz has bashed 33, 22, 29, 24, and 27 home runs. In a league where right-handed power can be somewhat hard to come by (see the trade the Arizona Diamondbacks made for Mark Trumbo), he will be a nice get for whichever team lands him.
Negotiations still won’t be smooth, though. It will cost whichever team lands Cruz draft pick compensation, and according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram, Cruz is seeking at least $15 million annually:
The business aspect is Cruz’s contract demands and what the Rangers want to pay him. The Rangers don’t appear interested in giving him the maximum deal he is seeking, as many as four years at more than $15 million annually, but would prefer two guaranteed years and possibly a club or vesting option.”
That is a steep price to pay, but the Mariners have shown a willingness to hand out big bucks to try and keep up with the rest of the AL West. Adding Cruz would certainly help lengthen out a lineup that will be built around Robinson Cano, but it likely isn’t nearly enough to get on the level of the Rangers or even the Los Angeles Angels.