Veteran right fielder Nelson Cruz has reportedly signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Baltimore Orioles, according to Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes:
Brittany Ghiroli of Orioles.com confirmed the deal:
Can confirm the Orioles agreement with Cruz on a one-year deal pending a physical. First reported by @Enrique_Rojas1— Brittany Ghiroli (@Britt_Ghiroli) February 22, 2014
The club confirmed the deal on Monday via its Twitter account:
To make room for Cruz on the 40-man roster, LHP Chris Jones has been designated for assignment.— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) February 24, 2014
Cruz was one of the top hitters on the open market and projects to make a real impact in the middle of the order for the Orioles.
The 33-year-old has a career batting average of .268, an on-base percentage of .327 and a slugging percentage of .495. He’s racked up 774 hits, 489 RBI and 157 home runs since breaking into the majors back in 2005.
The nine-year veteran was extended a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Texas Rangers, but he opted to test the market.
At the time, general manager Jon Daniels told Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News:
It’s a relatively easy decision. We’d be happy to have him [Cruz] back on a one-year deal. And we’re not prohibited from continuing to talk to him while he sees what the market is. If he signs elsewhere, we get a draft pick that helps us as well.
The Orioles know exactly what they're getting with Cruz: a consistent hitter who has averaged 27 home runs per season since the 2009 campaign.
The Dominican native is also prone to missing time, as he has only once competed in more than 130 games in a single season during his career.
Cruz notably missed 50 games due to a suspension during the 2013 season, accepting the ban due to his alleged involvement in the now-infamous Biogenesis scandal.
He completed the suspension and was activated for the Rangers’ one-game playoff against the Tampa Bay Rays, where he went hitless in the 5-2 loss.
Is signing Cruz a smart move for the Orioles?
Given Baltimore's need for another big bat in a lineup that only had inconsistent pop outside of Chris Davis and Adam Jones last year, it's a great signing for the O's, assuming he can stay healthy.
The Orioles once again have designs on contending in the incredibly competitive AL East, and Cruz gives them a massive boost in getting there. They went 93-69 in 2012 but fell to 85-77 in 2013.
While he doesn't guarantee a playoff spot, and he can't help a questionable pitching staff, Cruz's presence will certainly help Baltimore against the Red Sox, Rays, Yankees and Blue Jays.