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MLB Storylines: Orioles capitalize on Cruz's crashing market

MLB Storylines: Orioles capitalize on Cruz's crashing market
Nelson Cruz hit .266 with 27 HR, 76 RBI and .833 OPS for the Rangers last season. (Photo: AP)
February 23, 2014
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In this MLB News and Notes segment, I will be giving occasional reports on the latest news and rumors throughout the MLB. I also will try to tweet news and rumors as I see them, so feel free to follow me on Twitter: @ajnicholsIBI.

Here are the stories from Saturday, February 22nd.

Top Stories 

  • The market for Nelson Cruz crashed all the way down to a one-year, $8 million deal with Baltimore.  Cruz turned down a one-year, $14.1 qualifying offer with Texas and there were rumors early in the offseason that Cruz also turned down a multiyear deal with the Mariners.  The power-hitting outfielder was hoping to secure a long-term contract but will now have to test his luck again next winter.  Meanwhile, the Orioles have now lost their first and second round picks in June’s draft after signing both Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez – and they may not be done.

Tribe News

  • The Indians continue to be impressed with Carlos Santana’s progress at third base, but the real challenge will begin on Wednesday, when he starts seeing game action at the hot corner.  Speaking about Santana, manager Terry Francona said: “I think he's done a remarkable job to get to this point.  I think the games will tell us a lot more.  He's working hard every day. I think the biggest compliment is, you look at him out there and with trained or untrained [eyes], and you wouldn't say, 'Oh, that's a catcher playing third.'  He's playing third."
  • Veteran Jason Giambi is already seen as almost an assistant coach, and on Saturday he showed why.  During live batting practice sessions, Giambi helped Aaron Harang discover a mechanical issue and while in the box against lefty reliever Josh Outman, he stepped out and informed him that he was tipping his pitches.

News and Notes

  • Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reported that the Rangers, Orioles, and one NL team are showing serious interest in Ervin Santana.  However, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News heard that Texas is not pursuing Santana at the moment.
  • MLB.com’s Greg Johns said that the Mariners interest in Kendrys Morales will depend on if Corey Hart’s knees allow him to play the outfield full time.
  • MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince wrote that the Blue Jays are betting on better luck with injuries and the development of their young pitchers, and that a deal for a rotation upgrade doesn’t appear to be likely.
  • The Yankees and reliever Andrew Bailey agreed to a Minor League contract.  The deal also includes multiple incentives.  Bailey is rehabbing from November surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder and could be ready to pitch for New York by mid-May.
  • ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick said that Reds manager Bryan Price intends to have his team be more aggressive on the basepaths in 2014.
  • Outfielder Tyler Colvin has signed a Minor League deal with the Giants and has passed his physical.  Colvin signed with the Orioles earlier in the winter but failed his physical and the contract was nullified.
  • Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that veteran Bobby Abreu is almost guaranteed a spot on the Phillies bench if he performs adequately in Spring Training.

User Comments

Hermie13
February 26, 2014 - 12:11 PM EST
"People are saying they won't give Cruz a one-year $8M deal, but are okay with giving David Murphy (a .220 hitter with no power) a 2 year $12M?"

A case can be made that over the last three years, Murphy has been better than Cruz though. We're paying him less money in 2014 and didn't lose a draft pick/money.

And don't agree with saying Murphy has no power. Not a power hitter but definitely has some pop. Career .166 ISO is right in line with what Kipnis put up this year (.168). Wouldn't call Kipnis a power hitter but definitely wouldn't say he has no power.

Calling him a .220 hitter is also a stretch. Sure hit .220 in 2013 when his BABIP took a nose-dive, but he's a career .275 hitter.
Matt
February 25, 2014 - 9:52 PM EST
Joseph,
I am a season ticket holder but I agree, this offseason has been lousy. People are saying they won't give Cruz a one-year $8M deal, but are okay with giving David Murphy (a .220 hitter with no power) a 2 year $12M? Just like in 2007, we had a chance to capitalize on a great year instead Shappy and Antoinetti sit on their hands. They should have been gone last year but hide behind Francona. Anyone who watched them last year knows they were awful against good teams mostly because they didn't have anyone in the middle of the order. Not saying Cruz is Miggy, but he would be much better than Murphy! Also, they lost 40% of the rotation yet have made no moves other than giving minor league deals to 2 guys who were a combined 6-22 last year. Asking Salazar to win 20 games his second year is too much expectation (a la Jaret Wright). Every year it seems like they just hope 5 or 6 guys have "bounce back" years. The drafting has been horrific yet they give Mirabelli a promotion to VP! Like I said I am a season ticket holder but this has been the most disappointing off-season in a long time, I just thought they would have learned from 2007, especially when they look at their record against the East knowing that is who they will have to beat to get to the WS. You can't rely on beating the White Sox 17 times again.
Hermie13
February 24, 2014 - 8:29 AM EST
I'm curious to see what will happen next winter if guys do start accepting the QO. Selig and MLB said they wouldn't allow teams to do a sign-n-trade after a player declined a QO....but if a player were to accept, I think they'd still be able to deal the player.

MLB allowed teams under the old system to deal free agent playesr that accepted an arbitration offers. Rafael Soriano was a prime example of this. Accepted the Braves arby offer when he was free agent eligible...Braves in turn dealt him to the Rays for a player (Jesse Chavez). The player being dealt after accepting arby simply had to agree to the deal (can't be traded before June 15th I believe without player's permission).

Would MLB step in and so no more of that too? Or allow that still since it wouldn't have any effect on the draft since the player accepted the QO offer? Teams may be more willing to deal a prospect than give up the draft pick/draft money...especially if allowed to then negotiate a long-term deal with the player.
Polished platters of uncured honey ham and figs
February 24, 2014 - 1:56 AM EST
If it wouldn't have cost a draft pick/draft money - I would have been all over Cruz on a 1 yr 8 million dollar deal...
Walter
February 23, 2014 - 11:58 PM EST
I think any future FA over 32 like Cruz might start accepting QO in the future. Remember the egos of the players, the agents, and the players union is to get most money they can with multi year deals. I think we still have to see how far the market falls for Santana/Drew/ Morales. Are all 3 of these players are 30 +?

The Indians for 15 don't have to worry of not offering Masterson a QO because we know he would not accept it.
Tony
February 23, 2014 - 5:32 PM EST
Something to keep in mind.....the qualifying offer may get up to $15M next year. I think some guys are going to be more apt to take that now.....especially in light of the damage it causes not to take it. The top free agents can turn it down and get deals....but the middle of the road guys like the Nelson Cruz's of the world have to take it. Going to be very interesting if clubs are so free to extend the QO's next offseason and if players finally start accepting them.
Willie
February 23, 2014 - 4:18 PM EST
Seth of course that's assuming Cruz has a great yr. Even a solid yr and they probably offer, it puts the pressure on Cruz to perform if he wants a big deal in FA or even a pricey extension. Btw, I agree, I really didn't see why he didn't take the QO. I think next yr we could actually see some ppl actually accept the QO.
Walter
February 23, 2014 - 1:48 PM EST
Last year the fans wanted the Dolans to spend the money to make the team competitive in order to be interested in the team. They did and the team won 92 games. Problem was the fans played arm chair quarterback waiting for the team to collapse so they could get there thrill of I TOLD YOU SO!

Cleveland is a one town sport town that love to support the loser of a football team. For other sports in town they just become front runners. Only support when winning but criticize them to death where they are not..
Drew
February 23, 2014 - 1:30 PM EST
I think what a lot of fans don't understand is that while 8-12 mil has become reasonable by MLB payroll standards its still a lot of money to come out of your pocket if your business is operating at a loss. Until Cleveland shows it can support a winner at the gate in today's market I cant really blame the Dolans for not wanting to go 10-15 million over budget. For one it doesnt buy you much these days as guys at that price are either low reward/high risk and if the deal works out in terms of wins, it doesnt guarantee to recoup at the gate. If the deal doesnt work out your out 10 million dollars.
Seth
February 23, 2014 - 1:15 PM EST
Willie, the only way the Orioles give Cruz a qualifying offer next year is if he has a big year. Not sure what Cruz was thinking to turn down the QO, banking on teams making an unintelligent decision I guess due to the obsession with "right-handed power." Seems the right-handed power obsession is more of an external media-driven phenomenon than something that GMs are actually overpaying for. The guy's been worth around 1-2 WAR/year for the past 3 years, so an $8 million contract is about right, but $14 million would be a significant overpay.
Willie
February 23, 2014 - 12:42 PM EST
When you consider what the Orioles did, I think they've been pretty shrewd getting both Jimenez and Cruz on smaller deals than many anticipated. Yes they lose their first and second picks but they'll likely give Cruz a QO which would net them a first rd pk. So they basically take the risk of Cruz getting injured, but outside that they virtually trade a second rd pk for a first rd pk a yr later and net Cruz for a yr if all plays out.
Matthew
February 23, 2014 - 11:56 AM EST
"wahhhh, the Orioles took Ubaldo"

Would you have committed 4 years and $50M to him? I wouldn't.

"wahhhh, our lineup has no power"

Last year, the Tribe was 9th in MLB in SLG%, 10th in HR

"wahhhhh, we have no cleanup hitter"

Nelson Cruz: 57 career games batting 4th: .235 BA, .766 OPS

"I hope Progressive Field becomes a ghost town"

You may have been a fan for 25 years but you are a TERRIBLE fan. Nothing more than an ill-informed crybaby.
Walter
February 23, 2014 - 10:53 AM EST
I guess 92 wins last year was mirage. I believe 90% of the fans at this time last year wanted Jimenez DFA. Also 90 % of the fans hated the Jimenez trade to begin with.

This year FA class was average at best.
Joseph Devito
February 23, 2014 - 10:46 AM EST
What an off-season! Lose starters and relievers and fail to bring in a middle of the order hitter when several were available. It clearly shows how this management is NOT committed to winning. Their real commitment is to NOT spend money. They bring back Giambi who should have retired 8 years ago. And they bring in David Murphy who hit all of 6 homers last year. Meanwhile the Orioles get our starter and pick up an impact hitter in Nelson Cruz. Antonetti and Shapiro should be ashamed of themselves. Us Indian fans deserve better the this garbage.
MT88 in WI
February 23, 2014 - 10:43 AM EST
Giambi notices that Outman was tipping pitches & corrects it. The Cardinals fixed Axford because he was tipping pitches for a season plus in Milwaukee. Makes one wonder about the coaching and video staffs at Colorado & Milwaukee.
Walter
February 23, 2014 - 9:59 AM EST
Cruz is overrated. If he was that great the Rangers would never let him go or the other big market teams such as the Yankees and Red Sox would have gone after him, Good choice by the Indians by not going after him.

I wonder if Giambi will be MLB manager very soon based on how is already coaching and helping players become better. Examples with Outman and Harang. Giambi might found out why Outman has been inconsistent because he tips his pitches. If he solve that problem could be very important lefty for the Tribe this year.
Seth
February 23, 2014 - 9:44 AM EST
Cruz was not too great with the bat as it was, at his age and coming off the PED suspension there's a good chance he will be worthless, especially if he'd gone from Texas to a pitcher's park like Cleveland. Not a bad pickup for the Orioles since it's cheap and only cost them a 2nd round pick, but the Indians don't have a need, as Brantley, Bourn, Raburn/Murphy and Santana at DH are all upgrades over Nelson Cruz, and you definitely wouldn't give up a 1st round pick for him.
Mike
February 23, 2014 - 6:05 AM EST
You sir are in the minority. Many informed fans understand that the Ubaldo contract is a bad deal.

Nelson Cruz isn't worth losing the draft pick for a one year deal.
Joseph Devito
February 23, 2014 - 4:36 AM EST
Can this get any worse? the Orioles grab our no.2 starter. Now they sign the last player on the market who we could have desperately used for our lineup which has no power and no cleanup hitter. Antonetti,Shapiro and Ownership should be sent packing, yesterday! I have been an Indian fan for over 25 years. this has been one DEPRESSING OFFSEASON. I now hope that progressive field becomes a ghost town.

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