Orioles Sign Nelson Cruz

The Orioles continued what has been an incredibly busy seven-day span by announcing the signing of slugger Nelson Cruz to a one-year deal. Cruz's contract contains a base salary of $8MM, plus $750K in incentives — a disappointing outcome for a player who declined a $14.1MM qualifying offer from the Rangers and at one point reportedly sought a four-year, $75MM deal. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that Cruz rejected two- and three-year offers this offseason, although the timeline of those offers is unclear. Cruz is represented by the Wasserman Media Group.

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Cruz, 33, hit .266/.327/.506 in 456 plate appearances in 2013. A 50-game suspension for his connection to the Biogenesis scandal shortened his season. As MLBTR's Steve Adams noted in profiling Cruz in early November, however, that didn't stop Rangers manager Ron Washington from offering praise for Cruz as a teammate and a clubhouse presence.

The Rangers will now receive what is currently the No. 30 overall pick in the 2014 draft as a result of Cruz signing elsewhere. The Orioles, meanwhile, will sacrifice the No. 55 pick. Losing the No. 17 pick when they struck a deal with Ubaldo Jimenez likely made it easier for the Orioles to sign Cruz, since they would no longer have to give up a first-round draft choice in order to do so. In addition to Cruz and Jimenez, the Orioles have also signed Korean righty Suk-min Yoon to a three-year deal in the past week.

The Cruz deal is another win-now move for the Orioles, who are trying to build on an 85-win 2013 season and string together more wins before the potential departures of Chris Davis and Matt Wieters following the 2015 season. Cruz will serve as the Orioles' primary designated hitter, and he will also likely occasionally see time in the outfield. The transition to Camden Yards and the other hitter-friendly parks of the AL East should be a good move for Cruz, whose drastic home/road splits have drawn some criticism this offseason.

Of the remaining free agents, Cruz's pact with the Orioles most obviously affects Kendrys Morales. The Orioles reportedly had interest in Morales, so now the already-small number of interested bidders for Morales appears to be even smaller. Also, Cruz signing for one year and $8MM will likely make it even more difficult for Morales, a similar player, to get a sizeable deal.

The size of the deal will also likely increase skepticism throughout baseball about the qualifying offer process. That Cruz received so little was surely due in part to the fact that he had draft-pick forfeiture attached, and one year and $8MM is by far the smallest contract to which a qualifying offer player has agreed.

Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes first reported that the two sides had reached an agreement after CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported that they were closing in on a deal.

Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


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241 Comments on "Orioles Sign Nelson Cruz"


monroe_says
monroe_says
1 year 5 months ago

Great news! …. for the Mariners.

DinosSavedMammals
1 year 5 months ago

Because Logan Morrison and Corey Hart will be the missing pieces towards a championship run right? Cruz will have a better season than both.

North
1 year 5 months ago

Cruz can barely move his legs at a decent pace in the direction he wants them to go. His value is limited because he doesn’t move his lower limbs. Morrison is younger, cheaper, and can move better. Hart doesn’t have compensation attached and is likely better if healthy (which he appears to be).

DinosSavedMammals
1 year 5 months ago

Hart and Morrison can’t stay healthy. They’re cheaper and don’t have compensation for a reason. Morrison was expendable in Miami with their depth/ missing half the season twice and harts knees won’t last 100 games even at DH. At least Cruz can give you health and a bat.

Gilded Splinter
1 year 5 months ago

This almost sounds like he needs a walker to get around the bases.

ztoa
1 year 5 months ago

Montero probably will have to steal a Wal-mart scooter to get around the bases.

Silab Garza
7 months 21 days ago

Woops.

Daysauce Ouyang
1 year 5 months ago

Unbelievable to think early in the offseason.

LazerTown
1 year 5 months ago

Not really. He way overextended himself. He really isn’t that good of a player.

Aramis Ramirez' Basement
1 year 5 months ago

Wow i’m really happy for Oriole fans. They needed a couple big moves. Great work Dan.

Edouble86
1 year 5 months ago

O’s were stalled all offseason, and are now in Cruz control the past week.

Lefty_Orioles_Fan
Lefty_Orioles_Fan
1 year 5 months ago

I see what you did here!
Also, you are right the Orioles are rolling now.
I like the Deal and I like Cruz! Quite frankly, I am excited about the season!
Hopefully, everyone stays healthy and happy!

Booker Smith
1 year 5 months ago

Amazing deal for the O’s… Nelly will be incentivized to perform, and he’ll kill it in that stadium. Definitely worth the no. 55 pick. One of the best moves of the offseason.

GoRav114
1 year 5 months ago

I wanted morales and Santana, they got Cruz and Jimenez. I get it and as a fan I’m still excited cause at least they got better this offseason. They made a smart decision to forfeit the 52 pick. If Cruz is good on the one year deal the orioles can make him a qualifying offer and get back either a higher draft pick or another year. If he is bad the money is off the books and they can get the extension done for davis.

rikersbeard
1 year 5 months ago

Why did you want Santana over Jimenez?

GoRav114
1 year 5 months ago

They both had a down year in 2012 but overall I think Santana is a safer bet, more consistent, over 200 innings 5 years, only 30. I like the Jubaldo signing but he walks way to many batters and the AL East hitters are very patient.

PWNdroia
1 year 5 months ago

They can still sign Santana…

Revery
1 year 5 months ago

I can definitely see this happening with a Kyle Lohse 3/33 type contract. And now you just lose a third round pick. It is a great way to go for it.

PWNdroia
1 year 5 months ago

I’m a Sox fan.

PittsburghPirates0022
1 year 5 months ago

Only for 8 million. Steal for Cruz and his powerful bat.

Christopher A. Otto
1 year 5 months ago

Cruz gets very little out of this. I wonder if he sought/received a clause guaranteeing the Orioles cannot make him a QO. Otherwise he could end up in same tough position next winter, too. If he can (1) have a great season, (2) get unhinged from compensation, then he could get perhaps $42M next winter.

monroe_says
monroe_says
1 year 5 months ago

such a clause would violate the current CBA

Gnotorious
1 year 5 months ago

Would such a clause violate the CBA? I think Beltran had a clause like that a few years ago. I know the CBA changed but I wasn’t sure if that specific issue had been addressed.

Ethan Purdy
1 year 5 months ago

Prior to this current CBA qualifying offers didn’t exist. It was a very different structure.

Gnotorious
1 year 5 months ago

They did exist, just not in this form. In the previous CBA if a team offered a QO and the player turned it down, they became either a Type A or Type B free agent and the team singing them would lose their draft pick to the team losing the player.

LazerTown
1 year 5 months ago

Does not mean there can’t be a handshake agreement. It does seem like his deal is peculiarly small.

homer
homer
1 year 5 months ago

If he gets a QO next year of 14 mil, good for him and he should take it as a 34 year old and then again as a 35 year old because he will not get a multi-year anywhere close.to 14 mil annual.

GD
1 year 5 months ago

Wow…the 1st player this offseason to sign a contract for what FanGraphs values him as. I never thought it’d go that low. That is a great signing for the O’s to add a 30-40 HR guy. With how much they saved they maybe able to still sign Morales to DH (I doubt it though, but adding those 2 bats in Baltimore would be a killer lineup). I’m no O’s fan, but would Love O’s to overtake Yankees and BoSox and win this division!

rikersbeard
1 year 5 months ago

Pretty sure Cruz will be the DH.

ghaf22
1 year 5 months ago

I think this definitely gives the orioles a shot at the division, they were a borderline solid team without making any major moves this off season, but I think this definitely makes them much more of a threat. I’m a yanks fan, but having the o’s in the mix should make this a very interesting division. I just feel bad for Toronto fans….

1 year 5 months ago

30-40 HR guy? Cruz has only hit 30 home runs ONCE in his career. And that was with PED’s!

Meh Sheep
1 year 5 months ago

Hit 44 total in 2008 if you count the 37 at AAA, hit 33 in 2009, and hit 32 in 2011 if you count his 3 in minor league rehab. But your point is valid anyway and about the PEDs though he probably only did them the one time they had evidence just like everyone else.

PWNdroia
1 year 5 months ago

Just out of curiosity, where is this fan graphs source? How do they rate players?

GD
1 year 5 months ago

How much you think Morales will go for now in Seattle?

GD
1 year 5 months ago

With limited Defense I can’t see how Morales will go for more than that. “If” Seattle could get Morales for $7-8m/yr I would go out 3 years and $21-24m on Morales as Seattle’s DH. We are talking Boras though with Morales.

livingpaint
1 year 5 months ago

yep, Bloomquist on Boras got 5.8 mill… Morales will command a lot more than that…

Karkat
1 year 5 months ago

Wow, it’s almost like Cruz should’ve accepted the Qualifying Offer all along……

Edouble86
1 year 5 months ago

Ya think?

GD
1 year 5 months ago

Morales too!

Michael
1 year 5 months ago

And Drew.

slasher016
1 year 5 months ago

It’s time to go back to the drawing board on QO. They still aren’t working. They just need to give compensation without giving up a draft pick, or these players will continually be hurt by the system. Good for the O’s though, but it’s also good for the Rangers.

rikersbeard
1 year 5 months ago

True, but it was supposed to help competitive balance. It was supposed to penalize the teams that “buy up” all of the good FAs.

1 year 5 months ago

The system isn’t broken because players like Cruz didn’t get 75. He could’ve accepted the 14 million dollar offer. He’s not an elite player who didn’t deserve a big contract.

Revery
1 year 5 months ago

Completely agreed. Now that a handful of guys went into ST without contracts, it has to be a lesson to agents and future free agents. If baseball keeps this system, guys will have to realize they have been de facto franchised.

1 year 5 months ago

I don’t really think that it would be a case of being franchised since most of these players in limbo aren’t worth annual salaries of 14 million. The problem is that since no one has accepted a QO, there’s not as much risk in offering it.

Wednesday
1 year 5 months ago

Exactly! I don’t think he deserved 14.1 and I’m not sure he deserves 8, but the QO offer should help teams keep their players. It guarantees a strong deal for people who want to stay. If someone is worth a big multi-year deal elsewhere, they’ll get it. If they want out of an organization, they’ll get out. Just because some marginal talent got big heads and entered spring training without a contract isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the game or the fans or the players as a collective.

homer
homer
1 year 5 months ago

Cruz got hurt, but not by the system. He turned down 14 mil and that is on him. The market paid him fair value of 8 mil. Where is the problem?

PWNdroia
1 year 5 months ago

If you call getting 8 million dollars to play baseball being “hurt by the system.”

Ruthlessly Absurd
1 year 5 months ago

Yeah I just don’t get how a player who turned down more than he’s worth and ended up signing a contract for what’s he’s worth shows the system isn’t working

Meh Sheep
1 year 5 months ago

Those who get less that the QO should perhaps consider other agents.

Damon Bowman
1 year 5 months ago

In the case of Nelson Cruz, you could not be more wrong. The system did nothing to his value and what he received. He was crushed by an extremely foolish decision to turn down a qualifying offer. Coming off of a 50-game suspension was the time to take the QO and prove that he was still healthy and worth more when it came time to find a deal for 2015 and beyond. The same holds true for Steven Drew if he ends up signing for less than the QO. The $14 million deal for ’14 would have been a steal for him and he made a bad decision. It’s not the system — it’s the arrogance or foolishness of the player and his reps.

LazerTown
1 year 5 months ago

Why is it broken?

He turned down an offer that at the time still seemed too high. In what world is Nelson Cruz worth more than $14M a year?

slasher016
1 year 5 months ago

It’s amazing how little people get it. His value was directly hurt with the draft pick compensation attached. There was only a handful of teams willing to bid because of it. You don’t think the small market teams reliant on draft picks wouldn’t have signed him for $8M? Hell the main reason the Orioles were willing to do it was because they already lost their first round pick. Yes, he could have absolutely taken 14.1 million, but you have to decide so quickly that it’s hard to know what you’re going to get when the market bears out.

Dbacksfan44
1 year 5 months ago

Good signing for Orioles

FOmeOLS
1 year 5 months ago

Who do the Rangers get #30, and the Orioles lose #55?
Don’t the Rangers just get the Orioles’ second round pick, which is currently #55?

slasher016
1 year 5 months ago

No they changed that, you always get a pick after the first round now (supplemental round.)

Shawn Baublitz
1 year 5 months ago

Rangers get a supplemental draft pick for Cruz. No matter which pick the signing team loses.

MadmanTX
1 year 5 months ago

Bet the Rangers would have taken Cruz back to DH for one year at 4 or 5 mil. Kind of a little overpay at 8.

GRN_
1 year 5 months ago

The Rangers offered him 14 million

slasher016
1 year 5 months ago

They were willing to take him back for $14.1M . . . hence the qualifying offer.

gammaraze
1 year 5 months ago

That was before signing Choo and trading for Fielder…

gw9999
1 year 5 months ago

8MM for 25 HR and 80 RBI won’t seem to bad when you compare to last year’s DH expense or what the team will see from 550 or so Moreland atbats.

Charlie Burns
1 year 5 months ago

Moreland averages off around 20 or so homers with 68 RBIs at a little over 2 million this season. I think the Rangers still have the better deal over Cruz.

Todd Smith
1 year 5 months ago

Moreland is only in his first year of arbitration. Not really a valid comparison.

Dave Traverso
1 year 5 months ago

A complete steal! Way to get played Rube … who would you take Byrd @ 2/$16 or Cruz @ 1/$8, no brainer. Kudos to the Orioles

GRN_
1 year 5 months ago

Did Byrd cost a draft pick though?

Dave Traverso
1 year 5 months ago

Very strong point, but the Phils have a protected first round pick. I think anyone in our town would prefer to give up that 2nd rd pick (especially since our track record is so poor) to have one less year of a commitment to a better 5 hole hitter

gmantacoma
1 year 5 months ago

would you have been happy if your GM had not signed Byrd and then done nothing else up to this point while waiting for Cruz’s price to come down?
Cruz obviously would not have signed this contract back when Byrd signed his.

Dave Traverso
1 year 5 months ago

I would prefer they never signed Byrd at all. He’s a prime candidate for a regression and I’d rather take my chances with with the young buck Darin Ruf’s .800+ OPS unless I could get Cruz. Would have also been interested in Morse too

gmantacoma
1 year 5 months ago

WelI I agree with that, Darin Ruf needs to play. He still may have an opportunity to shine, especially if you are right about the birdman.
OR you could trade Ruf to the M’s!
I don’t think you want Morse, he is not that good and to fragile.

DinosSavedMammals
1 year 5 months ago

I don’t believe Byrd cost a pick. He was traded mid season to Pitt and I believe once traded teams cannot extend qualifying offers .

GD
1 year 5 months ago

I’m curious what Seattle’s offer to Cruz was now?! I was pretty sure that Seattle was at 2yrs with a 3rd option year…maybe that was all rumor/talk going on?!

GD
1 year 5 months ago

Boras has got to be fuming with this Cruz deal…trying to get Morales as much as possible. This is definitely good news for Seattle landing Morales on a decent deal now.

LordOfTheSwings
1 year 5 months ago

Do they really need another 1B/DH type player, with Hart, L. Morrison and Smoak already there (although of course Hart and Morrison can also play LF/RF)?

GD
1 year 5 months ago

Seattle is going to run with Hart in RF as much as he can handle it. Morrison can be used at LF/1B, yes we have Smoak too against RHPs, but Morales would still fit very nicely at DH in my opinion

homer
homer
1 year 5 months ago

Looks like a good sign for the O’s. The conspiracy folks will be out saying how the QO killed his value when in fact he signed for what looks to be fair market value according to some including fangraphs and the estimated 6 mil per WAR..

GD
1 year 5 months ago

You are right! This is right where he “should” be in salary value, but in todays market and the inflated MLB money O’s still got a steal!

GD
1 year 5 months ago

I”m Shocked! I swore Seattle’s offer was for multiple years and for more annually than this. WOW O’s great job!

GD
1 year 5 months ago

Now go Win your flippin division!!!!!