Nelson Cruz Was Almost A Seattle Mariner, Until Owners Backed Out
We spent last offseason speculating about which outfielder the Mariners were going to bring in. Most of those rumors swirled around Shin Soo-Choo and Nelson Cruz. In the end the Mariners caught Robinson Cano instead and just filled the outfield from within (eventually picking up a few more guys through trades).
According to Bob Dutton, the Mariners actually had a deal in place with Nelson Cruz that ended up being pulled by Mariners ownership. The deal was reportedly worth $7.5 million for the 2014 season, and a club option for 2015 at $9 million. It seems like the deal was all but done and most of the Cruz party had already assumed he was going to be in Seattle when the Mariners owners had a change of heart. In the end, Cruz ended up signing a one year deal with the Orioles worth $8 mil.
As rumors swirled Nelson Cruz was a polarizing figure to Mariners Fans, his 2013 WAR with the Rangers was only 1.9, including a -9.7 dWAR. There was lots of speculation as to whether or not he would be able to produce in the vast expanses of Safeco Field, and there was even more criticism that he would be a big defensive liability. And let’s not forget about the Biogenesis fiasco. There was some serious concern that after all of that steroid nonsense that Cruz would never return to form. Of course, that was wrong.
The Orioles were the real winners here, as Cruz turned in the best performance of his career, launching 40 homers, 108 RBIs and rocked a .271/.333/.525 triple slash. He was also an all star. For the record, a .271 batting average would have been the second best in Seattle, behind only Robbie Cano.
Moreover, Cruz pushed a WAR of 3.9 this season in Baltimore. Which is an incredibly painful number for the Mariners, who missed the playoffs by only one game.
Looking to the future, Cruz is a free agent again after this season, and the Mariners haven’t ruled out going after Cruz again. The Mariners have already said that they are going to have more money to spend this winter, and they’re going to need it. Cruz had a fantastic season in Baltimore, and the Orioles would be remiss if they didn’t try to bring him back again. For his part, Cruz has said he’s interested in going back to Baltimore, but he’s taking offers from other teams.
After coming so close to the postseason this year, the Mariners are sure to go all out (again) to make it again soon. This should be a busy offseason, and while Nelson Cruz still may not be the right fit for the Mariners, a big bat behind Cano certainly wouldn’t hurt the M’s next season.