The Mariners have finally nabbed their right-handed power bat. Nelson Cruz and the Mariners are in agreement for four years, $57 million, according to a Dominican news outlet, passed along by Enrique Rojas, who broke the Robinson Cano signing last year. Others have confirmed the signing, though a physical still needs to occur and final numbers are not yet finalized.
Cruz comes a year after the Mariners tried to get him last winter, but ownership reportedly nixed a deal in-hand, leaving Cruz to sign a bargain deal with the Baltimore Orioles, where he smashed 40 home runs and posted a 3.9 win season, splitting time between DH and 580 innings in the outfield. Cruz is now 34, and he'll turn 38 in the middle of the last year of his deal with Seattle.
Cruz still carries many of the same red flags he did before, including a skillset that doesn't age well. But his strikeout rate improved last year, he still showed substantial power and production outside of Texas, and seems to have eased some of the fears that were attached to him a year before. Still, the Mariners are clearly buying high here, trying to bolster their roster as they attempt to get over the top.
Even though Cruz just hit 40 bombs, this signing will come with mixed reactions. A lot of writers are still sour on Cruz's long-term outlook, and rightfully so. This deal has a chance to look good in the first year or two, but then pretty bad in the years after as Cruz inevitably succumbs to age and declining power. Still, the Mariners are in a window to win a World Series right now, and maybe not in three years as Cano and Felix age. It's a risky bet, but the M's are also in a position they haven't been in for a long time.
This won't be enough, and I doubt they're done. They've held onto all of their trade chips, and there's still all of the mid-range free agent starting pitchers available. If they're not done spending, losing that early draft pick is no longer a consideration with the 1st already forfeited for Cruz.
We'll have more reaction to come throughout the day, but for now, discuss away.