3:03pm: Cruz himself now tells reporters, including MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli, that the Orioles and Katz have had some extension talks since the All-Star break, but the talks have not been serious in nature. The slugger adds that after his difficult experience last offseason, he would like to get an extension worked out before season’s end, although he knows that scenario may not be realistic, given the casual nature of talks to this point. He also repeated that he would like to remain an Oriole beyond the 2014 season (Twitter links).
11:37am: The Orioles and Nelson Cruz share an interest in keeping the slugger in Baltimore past the 2014 season, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. Both Dan Duquette and Adam Katz (Cruz’s agent) declined on comment on whether any extension talks have already taken place or will take place, though both parties have felt Cruz has been a good fit in Baltimore this year.
“It’s no secret it’s been a very positive experience for Nelson and the Orioles — though I don’t want to speak for them,” Katz said. “He’s enjoyed every minute of it.”
Cruz is set to hit free agency this winter and his big 2014 numbers will put him in line for a solid multiyear deal. (MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes ranked Cruz as the sixth-best player on the market in his most recent 2015 Free Agent Power Rankings.) Cruz’s league-leading 34 homers and .256/.324/.510 slash line have gone a long way in answering the doubts that plagued his stint as a free agent last winter. With a qualifying offer draft pick attached to him and a 50-game PED suspension clouding his reputation, Cruz was forced to settle for a one-year, $8MM deal from the O’s.
This tough experience last offseason might be a reason why Cruz is considering an extension, as Heyman notes it would be rather unusual for a player in Cruz’s situation (signing a one-year pillow contract type of deal and then delivering big) to not test the open market. The O’s will certainly offer Cruz a one-year qualifying offer if an extension can’t be worked out, and rather than face such uncertainty again, it could be that Cruz simply prefers to stay in a familiar situation.