No doubt emboldened by Jhonny Peralta hitting pay dirt with the St. Louis Cardinals, free-agent outfielder Nelson Cruz is reportedly seeking a contract in the neighborhood of four years and $75 million, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Cruz has already been linked to several clubs this winter--including the Seattle Mariners, New York Mets, Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers--but it's unclear how much each team is willing to dole out for a 33-year-old outfielder coming off a drug suspension.
Many thought that Cruz and Peralta, who are coming off 50-game suspensions for their links to the Biogenesis PED scandal, would be forced to take large pay cuts this offseason after being officially branded as "cheaters." By far the biggest contract prediction for Peralta was the three-year, $30 million deal offered by MLB Trade Rumors, but that prediction fell well short of the four-year, $53 million deal the shortstop was given by St. Louis last week.
Prognosticators were a little more optimistic in their predictions for Cruz--Heyman guessed four years, $64 million--but no one went as high as the $75 million that the two-time All-Star is asking. One person Heyman spoke to joked that there might be a "Biogenesis uptick" for guys like Cruz this winter, but the key word there is "joked."
Heyman added that Cruz might end up getting more because he is the "better of these two Biogenesis-connected players," but that isn't technically true when you break down the numbers. Peralta is younger, plays a more valuable position, is better on defense and does not possess the terrifying home/road splits that Cruz has accumulated over his eight seasons in Arlington.
Cruz is a career .294/.356/.556 hitter in 405 home games, numbers that would make him a top 3 free agent if they didn't comprise just half of his batting line. In 399 games on the road, however, he's batted just .242/.299/.435, making him a less powerful version of Mark Trumbo.
General managers are (hopefully) well aware of Cruz's home/road discrepancy, which might get in the way of him earning the big money he's hoping for.