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.

Explore posts in the same categories: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Denver Rockies, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Pittsburg Pirates, Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays

3 Comments on “Mariners Sign Nelson Cruz for $58 Million (and Lose No. 19 Pick)”

  1. kabeiser Says:

    The salary/season is fine for Cruz but this contract is at least 2 years too long. So far this offseason has indicated that teams don’t think they will be able to spend their payroll so they are blowing on long contracts to risky older players. VMart, Martin, Cuddyer (not long) and now Cruz.

    • Burly Says:

      It’s the norm to overpay for free agents. After the arbitration decision in 1976 which allowed free agency, Marvin Miller, head of the Players Association, had the foresight to see that limiting free agency to players with six years of major league service time would benefit players in the long run, because there would always be fewer free agents than demand among teams, because most players don’t reach the six full season threshold, thus driving up prices.

      Charlie Finley was the only owner who understood the basic supply and demand economics of free agency. He saw that if every player became a free agent after two years in the major leagues, which is basically what the arbitrator’s decision made possible (the one-year option in the player’s standard contract meant that teams could re-sign a first-year player at an amount the team decided upon for one more year only), then the really great players would make a lot of money but that salaries would be held down for most major leaguers who had to compete with one another and players in the minor leagues for a limited number of major league jobs.

      However, none of the other owners listened to Finley, who was by and large considered a crank, and when Miller let the owners know in negotiations that the teams would be able to hold on to their young players for six full seasons, subject only to salary arbitration after two or three seasons, the owners thought they were getting a bargain. Instead, free agent contracts immediately completely demolished the old salary structure and allowed arbitration eligible players to argue, hey I had significantly better performance than some guy who got millions as a free agent.

      The work stoppages in baseball since then have mostly been about the owners trying to undermine the free agent system they agreed to so readily in 1976. The owners like the fact that they get to control young players for six years; they just don’t like the demand for a small number of free agents the six-year requirement creates.

      Teams have adjusted somewhat by the recent trend (the last ten years) of non-tendering arbitration eligible players the teams don’t think are worth the likely salary arbitration result.

  2. kabeiser Says:

    It’s the norm but it just jumped to a new level.

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