Mariners Sign Nelson Cruz for $58 Million (and Lose No. 19 Pick)
The Mariners today signed Nelson Cruz for a reported $58 million over four seasons. The move also costs the M’s the 19th pick in next year’s amateur draft.
I’m not particularly surprised by the amount of Cruz’s signing or the fact that the M’s were willing to give up their first round draft. He lead the majors in home runs after all, and everybody needs another right-handed power bat.
His numbers are definitely going to fall playing his home games in Safeco Field. However, he hit 25 of his 40 HRs on the road last year, a fact of which I’m sure the Mariners are well aware.
His signing has me thinking about how he had to sign a one-year deal last year for much less than the qualifying offer he rejected earlier in the off-season. The free agents who rejected qualifying offers this off-season have done pretty well so far, but of the three most likely to regret rejecting the qualifying offer (Michael Cuddyer, Melky Cabrera and Francisco Liriano), only Cuddyer has signed so far.
I think the Mets made a big mistake giving Cuddyer $21 million over two years, mainly because they forfeited the 15th overall pick in next year’s draft to do so. It’s looking like there is enough interest, at least from his old team the Blue Jays, for Cabrera to get more than he would have gotten by accepting the QO.
In the case of Liriano, he might have made a mistake rejecting the QO, even if he gets a two- or three-year deal at $10 million per this off-season. If Liriano could pitch even 180 innings in 2015 with an ERA under 4.00, he could get a whole lot more next off-season. That said, Liriano is now 31 years old, and his history of arm problems is such that he might be doing the right thing trying to grab even a relatively small multi-year deal now.
One thing seems certain — Nelson Cruz’s decision to sign for much less at the start of the 2014’s Spring Training was a better move than the decisions by Kendrys Morales and Stephen Drew to hold out until until the season started so that they could become unrestricted free agents this off-season. There aren’t a lot of teams that want a designated hitter with a .612 OPS or an offense-first shortstop coming off a .162 batting average season.
Morales and Drew will get major league contracts this off-season, because at least one team will be willing to bet that they will bounce back in 2015. However, I would be surprised in any team is welling to risk more than $3M or $4M for one season given how poorly they played last year.