That’s the question posed by Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs. The lack of buzz for Nelson Cruz is interesting development this off-season, especially considering the fact that Shin-Soo Choo got paid so handsomely and Cruz arguably brings more on the offensive side of things. Nevertheless, Cruz’s market seems to be dwindling, and so Sullivan takes stock of how Cruz would fit with each and every team in the league.
Unlike those of us who assume Cruz will land with the Seattle Mariners, Sullivan believes that the Baltimore Orioles might be the only viable landing spot for the outfielder:
So, the Orioles already have Markakis in right. What they don’t have is much of anything in left or at DH, although there’s ability in David Lough and Nolan Reimold. Henry Urrutia doesn’t seem like he’s ready to deliver. The Orioles could make this work, but complicating factors is that they might be a better fit forKendrys Morales, and he has an even smaller market than Cruz does. If Baltimore were to sign Morales, they’d probably be more likely to remain in-house for left field. And Cruz hasn’t really been a left fielder.
So even Baltimore might not be a great fit. What about the Mariners? Sullivan writes the following:
They’re definitely interested, but right now there’s Michael Saunders in right and Logan Morrison and Corey Hart in left, and Cruz isn’t really a better player than Saunders, and Morrison can’t move to first as long as Justin Smoak is around. Signing Cruz would require that the Mariners either drop a decent outfielder or move a first baseman. At present, there’s no hole.
I’m not sure I agree with that assessment. Cruz’s output on offense is likely to outdo Morrison and Hart, and the maneuverability of American League rosters with the designated hitter should be able to create enough at-bats. Besides, the odds that Hart stays healthy for a full season aren’t great.
The Mariners need to bolster that lineup to supplement their signing of Robinson Cano. The guys they’ve got now won’t cut it, so I still think Cruz will end up in Seattle.