Nelson Cruz free agency: Four teams pursuing OF

Stephen Dunn

The Athletics, Mariners, Mets and Phillies are among those looking into the free agent.

The Athletics, Mariners, Mets and Phillies are among those pursuing free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Rangers are also interested in bringing back the outfielder, and the Royals could get involved as well.

Oakland could be poised to make a big move this offseason. The AL West champions will occasionally make a big splash on the free agent market and signing Cruz away from a division rival could help solidify their position atop the West. Cruz's 27 home runs would have placed him second on the Athletics in 2013.

The Mariners, too, seem destined to make a big splash for an outfielder. They have consistently been rumored to be a top landing spot for Jacoby Ellsbury in free agency, and could also seek a trade for the Dodgers' Matt Kemp. Starting left fielder Raul Ibanez is a free agent this offseason and Seattle traded Mike Morse late in the season. The team needs plenty of outfield help should they hope to compete in the near future.

The Mets are similar to the Mariners in that they are desperate for a new outfielder. Cruz would fit a number of needs for the team, key among them power. Marlon Byrd led New York with 21 home runs in 2013, but was traded to the Pirates in August. Only one other player, David Wright, topped 15 long balls. The Mets are looking at a number of players to fill a spot in the outfield, including Corey Hart, Curtis Granderson, and Carlos Beltran.

The Phillies could pursue Cruz as a way to bring in one bat without needing to trade away others. The team is willing to give up Domonic Brown, but Philadelphia would certainly rather keep Brown and pair him up with another slugger.

Cruz hit 27 home runs last year despite playing in just 109 games due to a 50 game suspension for his involvement with biogenesis. He hit .266/.327/.506 in 2013 and has a career 823 OPS.

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