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- Nelson Cruz agreed to a four-year, $57 million deal with the Seattle Mariners on Dec. 1.
- As a result, the Mariners will give up their first-round pick in 2015.
- Cruz’s former team, the Baltimore Orioles, will receive this draft pick.
Former Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles left fielder Nelson Cruz agreed to a four-year, $57 million deal with the Seattle Mariners on Dec. 1, per multiple reports.
The Seattle Times also posted the news of Cruz’s agreement with the team:
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick confirmed the news of Cruz’s contract with the Mariners. This includes a $1 million signing bonus, per ESPN Desportes Enrique Rojas. Despite the Orioles’ success last season (they had a 96-66 win-loss record during the regular season before getting swept by the upstart Kansas City Royals in the 2014 ALDS), Cruz stayed for just one season with the team. That one season was perhaps his best to date.
The MLB suspended Cruz for 50 games during the 2013 season for his alleged involvement in the controversial Biogenesis scandal, where prominent major leaguers purchased performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) from Anthony Bosch in Miami. Baltimore took a risk on him, eventually inking him to a one-year, $8 million deal on Feb. 24, per the ESPN report. He wound up with 40 home runs — tops in the majors — and 108 RBIs.
The Orioles then dangled a one-year qualifying offer worth $15.3 million, which Cruz turned down. According to ESPN, Baltimore gets draft-pick compensation if he signs with another ballclub. For their part, the Mariners were desperately trying to lock up a right-handed power hitter. They finished just 23rd overall in team batting average (.244) in 2014, per ESPN stats. ESPN reported on Monday they were looking at several trade possibilities, including the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Matt Kemp, the Atlanta Braves’ Justin Upton and the Boston Red Sox’s Yoenis Cespedes. None of them worked out, but they were able to come to terms with the rejuvenated Cruz.
ESPN also reveals Seattle had been pursuing Cruz since his fallout with the Texas Rangers in 2013. During his introductory spring training news conference in February, Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano wanted his team to make a move on Cruz as early as then.
The Seattle Times’ Ryan Divish points out Cruz’s contract with the Mariners will hinge on him passing his physical, which ought to happen sometime later this week. Divish also notes Seattle will surrender its first-round draft choice (19th overall) in 2015 to the Orioles as part of the Cruz deal.
Cruz is all too familiar with the Mariners’ home ballpark, Safeco Field. He has played in 52 games there to date, most of which were during his days with Texas, Seattle’s division rival in the American League West. During that stretch, he had nine home runs and 19 hits on a .234 batting average, per Divish, who predicts Cruz will be more of a designated hitter and be between Cano and third baseman Kyle Seager in the batting order.
The eventual Cruz signing marks the Mariners’ second major coup of the 2015 offseason. On Nov. 24, they agreed to a seven-year, $100 million deal for Seager, per ESPN.
The Mariners aren’t likely to stop there. The Seattle Times reports they are still on the lookout for a right fielder and “at least another starting pitcher” to shore up their rotation.
The 34-year-old Cruz has amassed 940 hits, 197 home runs and 597 RBIs on a .268 batting average in 963 career regular-season games, per ESPN stats.