Cruz rejects qualifying offer

With the deadline passing for players to make decisions on qualifying offers, outfielder Nelson Cruz has rejected the one extended to him last week.

Cruz was assured of turning down the Orioles’ $15.3 million offer. It just became official this afternoon.

The Orioles will receive a compensatory draft pick if Cruz signs with another team.

Teams have made 34 qualifying offers over three seasons, including 12 in 2014. None have been accepted.

Cruz continues to seek a minimum four-year deal after leading the majors with 40 home runs. He signed a one-year, $8 million contract in spring training after turning down the Rangers’ qualifying offer of $14.1 million.

cruz-swing-grey-sidebar.jpgIn the few interviews given since he became a free agent, Cruz has stated that his first preference is to remain with the Orioles.

“No doubt it’s my first choice,” he told MLB Network Radio. “I’d love to be back. I know they’re interested in bringing me back. Hopefully, we can work something out.

“I love everything about the city. I love my teammates, I love the organization. The way they treat their players is amazing. If we can work something out, I’d be more than happy to go back.”

In a poll of MLB Network Radio on-air personalities, six of the 10 predicted that Cruz will re-sign with the Orioles. However, I still don’t see the club handing him a four-year deal. Perhaps the predictions are based on Cruz lowering his demands.

Cruz’s agent, Diego Bentz, figures to have appointments with several clubs as the general managers’ meetings begin today in Phoenix. Jamie Murphy, who represents right fielder Nick Markakis, boarded a flight to Phoenix this afternoon and will meet with officials from other teams.

Welcome to free agency. The process will have to play out.

The Orioles are negotiating a four-year deal, but the sides haven’t come to terms.

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