At the start of free agency, MLBTradeRumors.com projected that slugger Nelson Cruz could get a three-year contract worth $39 million.
As we know, things change, and so did this free agent market. Today, the Orioles agreed to a one-year deal with Cruz worth $8 million plus incentives.
Was that a deal the Orioles simply had to take? Sure seems so, and after earlier giving up their first-round pick next June (17th overall) for Ubaldo Jimenez, they will now part with the 55th pick for Cruz. That seems like a small price to pay for a player that was on his way to a 40-homer season last year.
Cruz was stopped from hitting that many when he was nailed with a 50-game suspension in August for being linked to the Biogenesis scandal. This is the controversial part, with some fans that feel the O’s today added a cheater.
During the Winter Meetings, I asked Dan Duquette about the club’s stance on signing a player with a PED suspension.
“We do our due diligence on all the players. I think that, you know, being part of Major League Baseball, there is a program in place that deals with that. Once it’s dealt with, I think the players can go back to work,” Duquette said then.
So the O’s have added a power bat. Cruz hit .266 with 27 homers and 76 RBIs in 109 games last season. He had a .506 slugging percentage and .833 OPS, which would have ranked second only to Chris Davis among regulars on the 2013 Orioles.
In 2013, Cruz averaged a homer every 15.3 at-bats. That would have ranked fifth in the American League if he had enough at-bats to qualify for the league leaders. Davis led the AL with a homer every 11.02 at-bats.
Now the O’s add Cruz to an already power-laden lineup, one that led the majors with 212 homers last year. That was 23 more than the next closest team, which was Seattle with 189 homers.
What is your take on the Cruz addition?