Mariners reportedly in discussions with Cruz
Free-agent outfielder has slugged 135 home runs over past five seasons
ARLINGTON -- Nelson Cruz's uncertain free agency may be coming to a resolution.
Cruz and his agent, Adam Katz, are in discussions with the Mariners on a multiyear contract, according to a report Tuesday by CBSSports.com. Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik has a policy of not commenting on contract negotiations but acknowledged at Mariners FanFest last week that he would "love" to have Cruz in the lineup.
But Zduriencik also expressed concerns about the length and value of a contract with Cruz as well as having to give up a Draft pick for signing him. Cruz turned down a $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Rangers in November.
"Those are things you have to factor," Zduriencik said.
The Mariners are looking to add more firepower to an offense even after signing second baseman Robinson Cano and outfielder Corey Hart, both of whom were free agents, and acquiring outfielder/first baseman Logan Morrison in a trade with the Marlins. The Mariners are possibly also in the market for another starting pitcher and have shown interest in free-agent reliever Fernando Rodney.
Cruz, 33, hit .266 in 109 games for the Rangers last year with 27 home runs, 76 RBIs and a .506 slugging percentage. He was suspended for the final 50 games of the regular season for violating Major League Baseball's Drug Treatment and Prevention Policy.
If the Mariners sign him, they will lose the competitive balance Draft pick earned in last summer's lottery -- the sixth pick after the second round. The Mariners' first-round pick is protected and they forfeited their second-round pick when they signed Cano.
Cruz went into the free-agent process seeking at least a two-year contract. According to CBSSports.com, the Mariners have shown a willingness to discuss a two-year deal with a possible option for a third year.
The Rangers, who could use one more hitter in their lineup at designated hitter, have not closed the door on Cruz. The Orioles have also shown interest but a source said Cruz is not overly interested in playing for Baltimore. If Cruz has to settle for a one-year contract, it would most likely be with the Rangers with the idea of having one big trouble-free season and then hitting the free-agent market again next winter.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.