The Seattle Mariners and outfielder Nelson Cruz agreed to terms on a new contract Monday, reports Dominican journalist Yancen Pujols. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports confirmed the signing.
Cruz will make $57 million over four years, as Pujols said, but will be receiving a $1 million signing bonus. The Orioles were informed that Cruz was made a four-year, $58 million deal, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, but Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune clarifies that it is a $57 million deal with that signing bonus included.
The Mariners had been interested in Nelson Cruz as of last offseason. However, their ownership was wary of a signing of the outfielder, as he had been coming off a PED suspension and was attached to draft pick compensation with the Rangers. The Orioles signed Cruz to a one-year, $8 million deal at the end of the offseason and reaped the benefits of it.
The Orioles did offer a qualifying offer, just as the Rangers did last offseason, and will receive an extra draft pick (while the Mariners lose a pick), between the first and second rounds. A new deal for Cruz was reached much quicker this year. It was probably due to his performance in the 2014 campaign.
Cruz smacked an AL-high 40 homers en route to his third career All-Star appearance. He hit .271/.333/.525, while posting an OPS of .859, which was 40% better than league-average. The 34-year-old was an above-average defender, but not by much, saving about three runs on defense this season.
The Mariners really hurt for offense this past season, so the addition of Cruz will definitely help their team going forward. Seattle, as a team, posted a .676 OPS last year, which was good for 25th in the American League. Adding a player who hit the most homers in the American League last year isn't too shabby for an offense that really needs a spark.
Cruz will add to a lineup that already includes the likes of Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, and Dustin Ackley. Seattle platooned at right field in 2014, with Michael Saunders leading the way. But also playing right field for them last year was Endy Chavez (who is a free agent) and Stefen Romero. Cruz will fit into the lineup and defense quite nicely with the Mariners.
The New York Mets signed Cruz out of the Dominican Republic back in 1998, and in 10 major league seasons with the Rangers, Orioles, and Brewers, Cruz has hit .268/.328/.501, while posting an OPS that is considered to be 18 percent above league average. Cruz averaged 33 homers per every 162 games.