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Slugger Nelson Cruz is a "victim of the qualifying offer," in the eyes of ESPN Insider Buster Olney (subscription required).
Rejecting the one-year, $14.1 million from the Texas Rangers tied Cruz to draft-pick compensation. That means any of the other 29 teams would need to forfeit a 2014 pick—a first- or second-rounder, depending on their record last season—to sign him.
But as a 33-year-old one-dimensional player coming off a PED suspension, that caveat won't be easy for him to overcome.
Fortunately, his market is larger than many originally anticipated. Even the thrifty Oakland Athletics have considered Cruz, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Their interest isn't entirely surprising.
AL West rivals like the Rangers and Seattle Mariners are in pursuit, and the A's would have to battle Cruz as many as 19 times per year if he landed with either of them. With Chris Young searching for a new home in free agency and Seth Smith looking like a borderline non-tender candidate, Oakland should have ample playing time available for an outfielder/designated hitter.
Heyman also believes that general manager Billy Beane grew fond of Cruz when he spent the 2001-2004 seasons in the club's minor league system.
Of course, the A's seldom participate in bidding wars for older free agents, and even when entering the fray, they always let go of the gas pedal too soon. Olney tweets that Oakland finished second to the San Francisco Giants in this offseason's fight for Tim Hudson, while Heyman recalls that Beane also came up short when Adrian Beltre was available several years ago.