Not Signing Nelson Cruz a Big Mistake for the New York Mets

Stephen SmithContributor IIIFebruary 23, 2014

Nelson Cruz would have added some real power to New York's lineup
Nelson Cruz would have added some real power to New York's lineupTony Gutierrez/Associated Press

It can be frustrating being a New York Mets fan these days.

The Mets missed a real opportunity to add an impact hitter to their lineup when it was announced that free-agent slugger Nelson Cruz had signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Baltimore Orioles yesterday, as reported by Jayson Stark of ESPN.

The 33-year-old Cruz would have added a much-needed power hitter to a Mets lineup that is yearning for more pop. The two-time All-Star belted 27 home runs and owned a .833 OPS in 109 games for the Texas Rangers last season.

There is no doubt that Cruz's 50-game suspension late last season for his connection to the Biogenesis scandal was a negative factor in a team signing the nine-year veteran. That's understandable.

Mets management most likely would have had to offer Cruz an $18-20 million pact for two years to play in more pitcher-friendly Citi Field in Queens.

That's still a bargain when you consider New York signed free-agent outfielder Chris Young to a one-year, $7.25 million contract last November after Young hit a feeble .200 in 107 games for the Oakland A's in 2013.

A 3-4-5 batting order of David Wright, Curtis Granderson and Cruz would have been pretty formidable for the Mets. Sure, Cruz does not remind anyone of Roberto Clemente defensively but he would have made up for his mediocre glove with his potent lumber.

His signing would have made New York a wild-card contender in the National League.

A two-year contract would not have been too risky for a very cautious Mets brass to give a true slugger like Cruz.

A real opportunity missed.

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