The Seattle Mariners are reportedly close to signing Nelson Cruz, formerly of the Texas Rangers. This has been a rumor that has been floating around for a long time and it is not clear why speculation is heating up now.
Cruz was originally rumored to want $75 million over five years, but that was much earlier in the free agent calendar. Since Cruz remains unsigned, it is clear that teams are not falling all over each other to scratch out a check.
Perhaps Cruz and his agent are realizing that the market for a 33-year-old coming off a suspension is a little thin.
Honestly, it is hard to get terribly excited about Cruz. Certainly he has better power numbers than most of the Mariners lineup, but the M’s do not need a home run guy. They need a contact hitter.
Based on age and the dimensions of Safeco Field, you could see Cruz dropping to 15-20 home runs in 2014, assuming he is actually signed by the Mariners. How much should the Mariners spend on an older player that might hit .250 with 18 home runs?
Granted, this is a more conservative view of what Cruz might do with the bat, but it is not unrealistic when you look at Cruz’s history. Cruz is a career .268 hitter, and in his last three seasons he has hit an unspectacular .266/.260/.263.
At least he is consistent, right?
Hopefully the Mariners aren’t looking at 2009 when Cruz hit 33 home runs or 2010 when he hit .318 for the season. Those are seasons that are long in the past. Perhaps Cruz would get some good pitches with Robinson Cano in the lineup. Maybe Cruz will help create a formidable lineup with Cano, Corey Hart and Kyle Seager.
Careful, Mariners. If you bring Cruz in, make sure it is a short and affordable deal. Cruz is not a long-term solution.