According to Seattle Times Reporter Ryan Divish, Nelson Cruz just turned down a 5 year deal worth $75M from the Seattle Mariners. A couple weeks ago multiple sources reported the former Texas Ranger outfielder was seeking a four year contract for $75M.
The four year deal translates to $18.75M per season for the injury-prone, suspension-serving slugger. While most of us agree this is far too much (and too long) to spend for the 33 year old free agent, I’m here to say it would still be in the Rangers best interests to work out a deal – even if it does mean paying more than the Rangers want. Here are three reasons why:
Scarcity in the Market
Finding legitimate power hitters has been getting more and more difficult in recent years. Sadly, the crackdown on PEDs probably has something to do with that. With demand so much greater than supply, teams are vastly overpaying for free agent power hitters. A higher risk player like Cruz provides a moderate discount…but again…he’s a higher-risk player. The Rangers can’t afford to commit too much to Cruz, but for a team in great need of more power in the lineup, beggars can’t be choosers.
Positive Influence on the Team
Nelson Cruz is a great locker room/clubhouse presence. It seems starange saying someone who was suspended for 50 games last year for PEDs is considered a positive influence, but it’s true. Cruz, much like SS Elvis Andrus, has an infectious smile and an optimistic attitude. He keeps the team loose during tense times. He’s known as a great teammate and leader. Never underestimate the power of positive people in the locker room.
No Draft Pick Compensation Required
Perhaps the biggest justification for overpaying is that the Rangers will not be forced to forfeit a draft pick if they retain their own free agent. Jon Daniels is very protective of his picks and has been overtly avoiding big free agent signings that will require a first round pick as compensation. The question is, how much does he value that pick.
Is the pick worth overpaying by $4M annually? Is saving that pick worth committing an extra year on a Nelson Cruz contract? Only Jon Daniels can really answer those questions but we can certainly speculate.
Buster Olny reported mutual intereset between the Rangers and Cruz. He also reported the Rangers are looking for a 2 year deal while Cruz may settle for a 3 year deal. 3 years sounds like a reasonable compromise to me. I would have no issues resigning Cruz to a 3yr/$50M. That would be one year less than his publicized wishes and $16.6M annually instead of $18.75. 3 years would also allow the Rangers financial flexibility when resigning Yu Darvish becomes priority 1, 2 & 3.
Stay tuned because things are starting to heat up.
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