Mariners Reportedly Sign Nelson Cruz

The Mariners have made no secret out of their desire to trade for a right-handed slugger, so perhaps this report from the Dominican newspaper El Caribe should not surprise us too much:

You don’t have to be a Spanish expert to deduce that the report suggests that the Mariners are close to signing Nelson Cruz to a four year, $57 million contract. Ken Rosenthal has confirmed that the team is in “serious talks”, so it seems like a deal is probably going to get done.

The crowd and I both projected Cruz to sign for $45 million over three years, so it appears the Mariners won the bidding by adding a fourth year at an additional $12 million to the pile. Realistically, though, Cruz shouldn’t be expected to produce any value in his age-37 season, so while the team is spreading the $57 million out over four years, he’s going to have to justify the entirety of that figure over the next 2-3 seasons before he declines into nothing more than a bench player.

The forecasts are not optimistic. Steamer has Nelson Cruz projected for +1.5 WAR in 637 plate appearances in 2015, based on a 119 wRC+ and minimal defensive value. ZIPS sees the same level of offensive output, but because Dan gives a bigger boost to designated hitters to account for the DH penalty, he has the same production worth +2 WAR. The forecasts both think Cruz will return to something very close to his career performance, though, and that his career year at 2014 was an outlier and not a sustainable improvement.

If Cruz follows a traditional aging curve, he’d be expected to produce something like +3 to +5 WAR, depending on how you heavily you penalize a player for spending time at DH. At $57 million, even the high side of this looks like $11 million per win, while the low side of the projection would have him pushing $20 million per win. Oh, and the Mariners gave up the 21st pick in the draft to sign Cruz as well.

We’ll do a full write-up on Cruz to the Mariners in a bit, but this is an early contender for the worst signing of the off-season.

We hoped you liked reading Mariners Reportedly Sign Nelson Cruz by Dave Cameron!

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mrwalterisgod
Guest
mrwalterisgod

Man…. I really hope this works out…. not optimistic.

Slats
Guest
Slats

VMart would have been a better bet for the money but he wasn’t going anywhere. Cuddyer would have been less money but even more risk. People lose their shit over the idea of trading young pitching for an offensive upgrade and then get snarky about obtaining the best FA bat available?

JS7
Guest
JS7

Cruz is the best DH option available, and he’s going to help the team over the next few years.

This is a good deal. And besides, the only thing at risk is the owners’ money. We lost nothing, and we certainly gained something. It remains to be seen how much we gained, but even with age/regression, Cruz is likely to produce enough value to justify this contract.

CapSea
Guest
CapSea

It’s important to care about money and the economics of baseball, but once a player is signed and they have at least the potential of talent, there’s no reason not to be happy. As I said last offseason, don’t worry about how much money the Mariners spend on individual moves. Worry about whether they upgrade. The money they spend on any one individual player may prevent them from upgrading elsewhere, but that doesn’t mean that the signing is bad, only that the planning and execution of the signing relative to the rest of the team is bad.

So even though Nelson Cruz is both risky and probably not that good, he’s got talent, and now he’s on the team. I’m happy – way to go Mariners.

Rippers
Guest
Rippers

Last year I would’ve hated giving Nelson Cruz 4-years for anything.

But this year, I keep hearing “Cespedes for Iwakuma” and “Upton for Taijuan Walker” and lord knows how much Matt Kemp is going for. Matt Kemp is my favorite target because for all the risk in his red flags and size of contract, at least he’s under team control for the next 5 years.

Nelson Cruz strikes me as “Matt Kemp lite” in that we’ve just “traded” for something that could remotely possibly at some point be another Taijuan Walker and a 4/57 contract (AAV $14.25M). Nelson Cruz isn’t my favorite target and he comes with his own red flags but as I’ve said before, like with Matt Kemp, the Mariners are in perfect position to absorb the risk involved with rolling the dice on Nelson Cruz. We already know that Robinson Cano likes the idea of acquiring Cruz since he was hoping for this last season.

Also, Mariners are now in a different spot on the win-curve. At +70 wins, throwing a bunch of money for Nelson Cruz to be the offseason savior would have been depressing. At +80 wins, any contributions from Nelson Cruz to compliment our offense NOW will be extremely important in the wake of coming fresh off relying on cardboard (Kendrys Morales) to hit cleanup.

So yeah, I’m surprisingly fine with this to the point where when I woke up to this news this morning, I was all like “Alrighty-then”and actually felt more comfortable than waking up to the team burning prospects for rentals.