Outfielder/DH Nelson Cruz reportedly has a new home. Cruz signed a four year, $57 million contract with the Seattle Mariners.
In 2014, Cruz led the AL in HRs with 40 and drove in a career high 108 runs in his lone season with the Baltimore Orioles and was a crucial factor in their first AL East title since 1997. Prior to this season, Cruz had spent nearly his entire MLB career with the Texas Rangers playing with two AL pennant winning teams in 2010 and 2011 and earned the ALCS MVP in 2011. His tenure in Texas came to controversial end in 2013 when he was suspended for 50 games for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.
I don’t think Cruz hits 40 HRs in Seattle, but he will provide much need protection for Robinson Cano. Throw in Kyle Seager (who the Mariners gave a seven year, $100 million extension to last week) and the Mariners’ three, four and five spots in the lineup are as good as anyone in MLB. The Mariners missed the post-season by a single game in 2014. Cruz may very well be the last piece of the puzzle for the Mariners. The A’s have added Billy Butler, Ike Davis and Brett Lawrie. While the A’s probably weren’t in a position to nab Cruz and are probably smarter to spread their resources, I think Cruz is going to have a big impact in Seattle.
As for the Orioles, they do lose a very big cog. On the other hand, this is an Orioles team that functioned without Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Matt Wieters and with a less than distinguished starting rotation. I’m sure the O’s will want to add a bat and it will be hard to find a bat with Cruz’s production. But if there is any team that can adapt to changing circumstances, it’s the Orioles.
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