Nelson Cruz Rumors
Nelson Cruz's future as a Ranger is up in the air following his 50-game suspension for involvement with the Biogenesis clinic, but if things had gone his way in the 2012-13 offseason, he'd be calling Arlington home for quite a bit longer. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that Cruz and his former agents Seth and Sem Leinson of ACES pitched a four-year, $56MM contract to the Rangers last offseason, but GM Jon Daniels and his staff passed.
Cruz is reporting to the Rangers' instructional league next week (at his own expense) to prepare for a potential playoff push, and while the team has made it clear that he isn't guaranteed a spot, Heyman notes that manager Ron Washington has voiced his desire for Cruz to rejoin the club. Cruz is viewed as a positive in the Rangers clubhouse, and the team is happy that he was open about his mistake.
In terms of free agency, it's not clear if four years and $56MM is still what the 33-year-old Cruz is looking for. The longtime Ranger hit .260/.319/.460 with 24 homers in 585 plate appearances last season but was hitting .268/.330/.511 with 27 homers in just 409 PAs at the time of his suspension. His superior numbers seem as though they should up his price tag, but he's a year older and now has the a PED connection hanging over his head. Cruz has also changed agents recently, switching from ACES to Adam Katz of the Wasserman Media Group a month ago.
Heyman points out that Cruz's 27 homers still lead the upcoming free agent class, so it's easy to assume that his power bat will still be in demand this winter. Prior to his suspension, Cruz had cracked the Top 10 on Tim Dierkes' Free Agent Power Rankings, but the 50-game ban dropped him off the most recent edition of the list.
Cruz is earning $10.9MM in 2013 after signing a two-year, $16MM contract that bought out his final two seasons of arbitration eligibility prior to the 2012 campaign. The contract initially called for a $10.5MM salary in 2013, but he picked up an additional $400K of incentives based on plate appearances in 2012 (as can be seen on Cot's Contracts).
Here's the latest from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal:
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says he did not make a mistake in claiming David DeJesus, as some speculated at the time. "I wasn’t concerned about being stuck with David, as I like him a lot," says Rizzo. "The player from Tampa Bay is not nearly a sexy prospect, but we had solid reports on him and he will be, at worst, added depth. I would have liked (DeJesus) to go unclaimed — I think I could have made a better deal with several interested teams." After claiming DeJesus, the Nationals quickly sent him to the Rays for a player to be named.
- One reason the Nationals might not be in any hurry to trade Dan Haren, Rosenthal suggests, is that they're still nominally in the playoff hunt. The Nats are currently eight games back of the last playoff spot, but they have a weak schedule down the stretch. Besides, Rosenthal notes, there hasn't been much interest in Haren in the first place.
- Nelson Cruz has been working out at the Rangers' facility in the Dominican Republic. Cruz isn't forbidden to do that, even though he's currently serving a suspension for his involvement with the Biogenesis scandal. The Rangers want to have the option of turning to Cruz in the postseason.
- The Tigers, meanwhile, have "not even discussed" using Jhonny Peralta in the playoffs, according to Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski.
The Rangers have been the most active buyer in baseball this season, trading prospects Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm and Leury Garcia to bring in Matt Garza and Alex Rios. In his latest Rangers Inbox, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan tackles a host of issues regarding the future of the team's roster...
- Jurickson Profar could stay in his utility role for another season and ultimately transition to third base as Adrian Beltre moves into a DH role in two years, writes Sullivan. It's also possible that GM Jon Daniels discusses trades of Kinsler this offseason, as the four years and $57MM remaining on his contract will look like a bargain with the rising price of second basemen (Sullivan points to Dustin Pedroia and Robinson Cano as comparisons).
- Sullivan guesses the Rangers will make Nelson Cruz a qualifying offer at season's end. If Cruz accepts the offer or expresses interest in working out a new contract, they're prepared to move forward with him as their designated hitter in 2014.
- The club's interest in re-signing Matt Garza will be linked to the health of Matt Harrison. The team could also re-sign Colby Lewis. Nick Tepesch and Josh Lindblom are currently the leading candidates to be the fifth starter, as Neftali Feliz looks to be headed back to a bullpen role.
- The Rangers aren't likely to pursue Jarrod Saltalamacchia as a free agent despite their needs at catcher. As Sullivan writes, "That bridge appears quite charred in both directions."
On this date in 1961, 40-year-old Warren Spahn became the 13th pitcher in MLB history to win 300 games as he went the distance in the Milwaukee Braves' 2-1 victory over the Cubs. The complete game was the 317th for the left-hander, who also drove in Milwaukee's first run with a sacrifice fly. Spahn was enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973 with 363 victories, the most by any left-hander and the most by any pitcher who played his entire career in the live ball era. Here's more from this era's National League:
- Cubs catcher Welington Castillo is having a strong season behind the plate and he's showing the club he can be a valuable piece for the future. The same can't be said for the rest of the catchers in the Chicago farm system and the position is thin enough that GM Jed Hoyer said this weekend the front office plans to make acquiring more backstops a priority this winter, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
- Walt Weiss signed only a one-year contract to manage the Rockies this season, but he told the Denver Post's Patrick Saunders he wants to return in 2014. "Yes, sure. I knew it wasn't going to be all fun and games," Weiss said. "I have been through enough Major League seasons to understand that you'll get beat up. But I want to be a part of building something special here. That's what drives me."
- The final weeks of the season provide the Rockies a platform for cold-hard analysis, opines Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. The Rockies need more talent and Renck names Giancarlo Stanton and Nelson Cruz as aquisitions who could fill the club's void of a right-handed power bat and Jesse Crain should be a free agent priority as a much needed late-inning arm.
- The Phillies need to provide clarity to their managerial situation, according to Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Brookover writes the assumption is Charlie Manuel will step aside for Ryne Sandberg and, if that is the Phillies' desire, the announcement should be made now so Manuel can use the remainder of the season as a well-deseved bow for being the franchise's winningest manager while also giving the players, who will be around when Spring Training opens in February, an idea of what they can expect from their next manager.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Earlier today, the Mariners released Jason Bay after the outfielder hit .204/.298/.393 in 68 games for the club. Meanwhile, the Rangers announced that Colby Lewis will undergo hip surgery that will end his 2013 season. Here's more out of the AL West...
- The Mariners recently demoted struggling closer Tom Wilhelmsen to Triple-A Tacoma, and MLB.com's Greg Johns tweets that the team is going to experiment with him as a starter. Seattle isn't officially announcing that Wilhelmsen will convert to a starting role at this time, but he did start for Tacoma today with unsuccessful results. Wilhelmsen allowed three runs on three hits (two homers) with four strikeouts in two innings.
- Justin Smoak's turnaround has transformed him from one of the Mariners' problems to part of the solution, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. The Mariners still have plenty of decisions on their hands this offseason to produce a winning season, however, he adds.
- The Angels have called up infielder Grant Green in place of Daniel Stange and inserted him into the lineup, tweets Angels director of communications Eric Kay. Green, a former first-round pick, was acquired from the Athletics for Alberto Callaspo last week in a rare intra-division trade.
- In an appearance with Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio, Rangers GM Jon Daniels shot down previous reports that the team was willing to trade Matt Garza for a bat. He also said reports that the team wouldn't welcome Nelson Cruz back in 2014 after accepting his 50-game suspension were inaccurate (Twitter links).
Top Mets prospect Wilmer Flores will be promoted to the Majors on Tuesday, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports. Flores, an infielder, didn't rank in any major outlets' top 100 prospect lists at the beginning of the season, but he might if those lists were published now -- he's hitting .322/.358/.532 in Triple-A (albeit in the excellent hitting environment of Las Vegas), and today is his 22nd birthday. Newsday's Marc Carig notes (on Twitter) that with David Wright on the disabled list, the Mets will likely use Flores at third base. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- Pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith had an August 5 out clause in his minor-league deal with the Red Sox, but he will not exercise it, and will instead stay with Triple-A Pawtucket, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets. Rowland-Smith has a 1.58 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 for Pawtucket this season. His opt-out date had been pushed back to August after he missed most of July following an appendectomy. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that, now that the August 5 date has passed, Rowland-Smith can opt out of his deal if any team offers him a spot on its active roster.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington has emerged as one of baseball's best executives, WEEI.com's Mike Salk writes. After an awful 2012 season, the Sox have the third-best record in the Majors, behind only the Pirates and Braves. Salk chalks that up to the addition of more depth, character and chemistry to the roster, as well as to Cherington's hiring of John Farrell as the Red Sox's manager.
- The Rangers are preparing to be without Nelson Cruz now that Cruz has been suspended for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal, T.R. Sullivan and William Boor of MLB.com report. The Rangers have promoted outfielders Joey Butler and Engel Beltre, and on Monday they started Beltre along with Leonys Martin and David Murphy, giving the Rangers an all-left-handed outfield. That left three righties -- Butler, Craig Gentry and Jeff Baker -- on the Rangers' bench, suggesting the possibility of platooning all three outfield spots. "We're going to use the whole roster and continue to play Texas Rangers baseball," says Rangers manager Ron Washington. The Rangers are still trying to trade for an outfielder, but GM Jon Daniels suggests that the waiver rules governing August trades will make it difficult for Texas to pull off a deal.
Outfielder Nelson Cruz has spent the last seven years as a member of the Rangers but his tenure could come to an end this winter when he hits the open market. Texas feels that it would be quite difficult to re-sign Cruz, who accepted a 50-game suspension for his ties to the Biogenesis PED clinic earlier today, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).
For his part, Cruz says he wants to play for the Rangers again this season if they make the postseason and he hopes to finish his career in Texas, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN.com. Barring a serious change of heart in Arlington, it doesn't seem like the 33-year-old will get his wish.
Cruz is coming off of a two-year, $16MM deal that he signed in February of 2012 which paid him a $500K signing bonus, $5MM in year one, and would have given him $10.5MM this season. Whatever deal he signs next season will be negotiated by the Wasserman Media Group, whom he hired today after parting ways with ACES.
How will the missed time and the stain of PED allegations effect Cruz's value this winter? As a free agent, he won't have to worry about his weakened stats playing a direct role in his salary for 2014, unlike arbitration-bound Everth Cabrera. However, if Jon Daniels & Co. don't agree to forgive and forget, he'll have one less suitor for his services on the open market, which certainly hurts his value. On top of that, if Texas is unwilling to even consider a reunion with the longtime Ranger, one has to imagine that will send up another red flag for clubs seeking a right-handed outfield bat.
After months of speculation, we have some finality for a dozen of the players implicated in the Biogenesis scandal. Major League Baseball has officially announced 50-game suspensions for Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, Everth Cabrera, Antonio Bastardo, Jesus Montero, Francisco Cervelli, Jordany Valdespin, Fautino De Los Santos, Jordan Norberto, Cesar Puello, Fernando Martinez and Sergio Escalona.
All of those players will accept their suspensions, while Alex Rodriguez, who was suspended for 211 games (effective Aug. 8), will appeal his suspension and be eligible to play until that process is complete.
The suspensions carry particular weight for the Rangers and Tigers. The Rangers, who are 2.5 games back of the A's in the AL West and just a half-game behind the Indians for a Wild Card berth, will lose their starting right-fielder and club home run leader in Cruz for the remainder of the regular season.
The Tigers will lose Peralta, their starting shortstop, for the remainder of the season as they look to fend off surging Cleveland and Kansas City clubs and win the American League Central division. Detroit safeguarded itself somewhat against the loss of Perata by acquiring Jose Iglesias in a three-team deal with the White Sox and Red Sox prior to the trade deadline.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today was the first to tweet that Cruz would accept his suspension. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first tweeted that Peralta, Cabrera, Bastardo and Valdespin would also accept 50-game bans. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports added Escalona to the list (Twitter link), and Rosenthal reported that Cervelli, Montero, Puello, De Los Santos, Martinez and Norberto would do the same (on Twitter).
10:08am: Cruz has hired Adam Katz of Wasserman Media Group, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). Katz is the agent for notable players such as Yoenis Cespedes and Bartolo Colon, the latter of whom was suspended for PEDs in 2012.
9:57am: Nelson Cruz has fired agents Seth and Sam Levinson of ACES, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). Cruz is one of 13 players expected to accept a 50-game suspension for his connection to the Biogenesis PED investigation today, Heyman adds.
ACES came under fire this past offseason and was investigated by Major League Baseball after another client, Melky Cabrera, was suspended 50 games for PED use. Cabrera and ACES employee Juan Carlos Nunez reportedly tried to cover up the scandal by purchasing Spanish-language web sites to advertise a fictitious product which Cabrera claimed he took, unbeknownst to the fact that it contained synthetic testosterone.
In addition to Cruz and Cabrera, ACES also represents Biogenesis-connected names such as Jhonny Peralta, Jesus Montero, Fautino de los Santos, Cesar Puello and Gio Gonzalez, though the substances purchased by Gonzalez were reportedly legal and he is not believed to be facing a suspension.
Cruz, 33, is hitting .269/.330/.511 with 27 homers this season for the Rangers as they fight to keep pace with division-leading Athletics. Both decisions -- parting ways with ACES and accepting a suspension -- will impact Cruz's free agency this offseason.
Alex Rodriguez and 12 other players will be suspended for their involvement with Biogenesis, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Earlier today, we learned Rodriguez is to be suspended through the 2014 season and Heyman names Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, Mariners catcher Jesus Montero, Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, and Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli among the Major League players also expected to be suspended, as well as minor leaguers Fernando Martinez, Jordan Norberto, Fautino de los Santos, and Cesar Puello. Heyman adds there are also three players on the suspension list whose names have yet to become public.
Heyman writes Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera, A's right-hander Bartolo Colon, and Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal will not be suspended in connection with Biogenesis, as they have served 50-game penalties already.
All or almost all of the other 12 players are expected to accept 50-game suspensions, though there could be an additional holdout or two for appeal beyond Rodriguez, reports Heyman. All the players have the option to appeal, but it is believed close to all of them have made agreements for 50-game bans with MLB, Heyman adds. Players who appeal are eligible to keep playing until their case is heard.
Cruz told reporters, including MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, "I haven't decided what I'm going to do about anything. It's not just about myself, it's also about the team." Today is the 112th game played by the Rangers, so Cruz would be eligible to return for the playoffs (assuming Texas reaches the post-season), if he serves a 50-game suspension beginning Monday. Sullivan surmises the Rangers will recall an outfielder from the minors adding Manny Ramirez is not an option and manager Ron Washington is reluctant to use Jurickson Profar in the outfield. Regardless of what the Rangers end up doing, assistant GM Thad Levine acknowledges, "At this stage of the season, that's a difficult bat to replace."