Editor’s Note: Due to technical difficulties by one of our writers, I am posting this article for Patrick Ringelstein.
This off season shows a similar opportunity to the Mariners that was presented last year. Nelson Cruz will be a free agent and the Mariners are looking for another impact bat. Cruz and his 40 homeruns would be more than welcomed in Seattle. For a team that ranked in the lower part of the American League in homeruns that is very appealing.
Despite the great year Cruz had I think the Mariners should stay away again. Last year I had similar thinking. I thought he might be worth the yearly salary he was looking for but not the length as he was looking for around a 3 year deal. A shorter deal would be worth it but a 3 year deal seemed too much for someone so uncertain.
He was risky coming off a PED suspension while also having an injury history. You just didn’t know what you would end up with even at the beginning. The Orioles got him on a one year deal which made me immediately jealous and given the results I think everyone is now jealous.
But now here we are a year later and after such a great season there is no reason Cruz can’t get that 3-4 year deal from someone willing to give him not only the money but the years as well. The Mariners fit that role again but again I don’t believe they should make the plunge.
The fact remains that he is injury prone and while playing him at DH might keep him fresh there is no guarantee. If he gets a 4-year deal from the Mariners he would also be 38 at the end of the contract. More than likely he will not be hitting 40 homers in a year at 38. I understand that the Mariners have proven they can win now and should try to add pieces to help that but I think there are options that help now and in the future.
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A good example of a more reasonable option is Cruz’ teammate, Nick Markakis. Given that Baltimore will not exercise their option on Markakis he will be available. I still have full confidence in Austin Jackson as a leadoff hitter but bringing in some competition for that spot is good for the team. Not to mention, Markakis doesn’t have to hit leadoff. He’s been a consistent hitter that would would anywhere in the lineup.
Another good option for the OF could be Alex Rios. I had thought he would be too expensive for an in season trade but I still had wanted him on this Mariners team. Now that the Rangers will not be picking up his option I believe the Mariners should take a run at him. He had a down year but he’s experienced this before and was able to bounce back. Also I believe Rios will be more effective down the road even though they will both be the same age at the beginning of next season.
What I think makes Rios so attractive is his durability. From 2007-2013 he played in at least 145 games and this year played in 131. There were several times this year the Mariners got struck with injury, something every team has to deal with but that’s why having a player like Rios would be great because you can count on him to be ready for action.
Cruz might help next year but I don’t believe signing him will promote lasting success. I think if the Mariners search for other options I believe they can find a better fit.