Nelson Cruz rumors: Mariners possibly no longer interested in OF

Tom Pennington

Nelson Cruz's asking price and poor defense may drive the Mariners away after the team signed Corey Hart.

As free agent Nelson Cruz continues his search for a big contract, the Seattle Mariners might no longer be in play for the outfielder, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times.

Cruz may no longer fit into the team's plans as another designated hitter. The Mariners recently signed Corey Hart and traded for Logan Morrison in addition to having Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero on the roster already. Both Hart and Morrison have played outfield in the past, though two knee surgeries may limit Hart to first base.

Cruz is not necessarily only a designated hitter. However, his defense in the outfield is generally regarded as poor and he has also come off a number of leg injuries. Thus, an AL team is likely to see Cruz as more of a designated hitter rather than someone who can play a position full-time.

There is also the pesky matter of Cruz's asking price in free agency. He is still seeking a big deal worth over $15 million per year. Though it appears no team has been willing to entertain that fee, Cruz has yet to stray from it. As Robinson Cano found out, it only takes one team to come close to the asking price.

Cruz, who was suspended 50 games last year in relation to the Biogenesis clinic, hit .266/.327/.506 with 27 home runs in 109 games last year. The Mariners had been rumored to be one of the more interested teams in him, but with the signing of Hart, that interest may have passed.

Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik says the team is still looking for a variety of players, but does not know if there will be any moves soon. His wish list includes another right-handed bat, a starting pitcher, bullpen help and a backup catcher. However, with top free agent options carrying big price tags, Zduriencik knows he may have to go down other avenues to acquire help.

For now, the Mariners appear to be done spending. However, given the right free agent for the right price, the team seems to be willing to reopen the checkbook.

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