Some Thoughts on Nelson Cruz and the Seattle Mariners

The Seattle Mariners are rumored to be heavily involved in negotiations with restricted free agent Nelson Cruz. Cruz is an interesting free agent and the fact that the Mariners are looking into signing him has created a diverse reaction on the internet. Some of these opinions range from liking the potential move, to absolutely hating it.

There is a portion of the fan base that wants nothing to do with Nelson Cruz; his .198 batting average and .587 OPS at Safeco Field over the last three years make him seem like a poor fit up in Seattle. It is also important to consider that Cruz is a 33-year old coming off of a season that was shortened by a 50 game suspension for his involvement in the “Biogenesis Case“.

It is also important to note, that Cruz would cost the team a compensation draft pick. Since the Mariners has extended Kendrys Morales a qualifying offer (and he has yet to accept it) the team stands to lose the compensation pick that they currently stand to get from Morales not signing with them.

Despite these issues Cruz is still a player that could make sense for the Mariners, due to the lack of depth at the outfield position. In fact, the only outfielders that have major league experience on the M’s have five guys who played outfield for the team last year (Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders, Abraham Almonte, Endy Chavez, and Franklin Guiterrez) — and have added two guys who have experience in the outfield, but were not very good at that position, in Logan Morrison, and Corey Hart — the team could definitely use more productive depth at the outfield position.

From a free agent perspective, Cruz is one of the best (if not the best) free agent options out there to provide not just depth, but starting experience in the outfield. He could provide a excellent platoon opportunities in the outfield, first base, and designated hitter — Cruz would primarily be an outfielder. The major problem for me is what is it going to cost — in terms of years and dollar amount — to bring him up to Seattle.

There was a rumor that Cruz was demanding a multi-year deal worth $75 million, but that’s changed over the course of the free agency period — probably do to the fact that Cruz isn’t worth nearly that much financial commitment:

“Meanwhile, Cruz has been connected to the Mariners for months. It’s been an endless dance, and it feels like both sides are refusing to walk to the middle of the floor.  Do these guys even want each other? It’s a legitimate question at this point. While it’s smart business by the Mariners to sit and watch the price tag drop for these guys – Cruz’s demands have fallen from $75 million to just a multi-year deal – there’s been nothing but chatter. The Mariners were going to make an offer soon, then Cruz’s price tag fell again. Dip, dance, duck. Z says he would “love” Nelson Cruz, but Cruz is rumored to not love Seattle.” –Scott Weber, Lookout Landing

The fact that Cruz’s asking price has dropped is a good thing for the Mariners, and could help bring him to Seattle. But it has to be a smart commitment from the M’s.

If it’s something like a three-year deal worth $24-30 million, than it not only makes financial sense to bring him in…but it is highly unlikely that Cruz is willing to accept $8-10 million a year; especially when he was hoping for $15+ million annually at the beginning of free agency.

I’m all for bringing Nelson Cruz to Seattle, but it has to be at a price that makes sense for the Mariners and not just Nelson Cruz.

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