Free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz has had trouble finding a match on the market this offseason and may have to settle for just a one-year deal, reports Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
The chances of Cruz, 33, signing a multi-year contract have been hampered by his own refusal to stray far from his earlier contract demands. At the outset of free agency, he made it known that he was looking for a four-year deal worth $75 million. Cruz may have lowered his demands a little, but has not come anywhere close to a level where teams would feel comfortable.
Also hurting Cruz's chances at a big payday is the fact he will cost a draft pick to sign. The Rangers made him a qualifying offer that he turned down. As has been seen since the advent of the qualifying offer system, teams have been wary to give up picks for non-superstar players. Kyle Lohse had the same problem last year and Kendrys Morales, Stephen Drew, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana are among those struggling to find a taker this offseason.
Three of Cruz's most likely suitors this offseason have made other moves and may no longer have room on their rosters for him. The Rangers -- for whom Cruz has played the last eight year -- signed Shin-Soo Choo to a huge deal and may not have the financial room or roster space to accommodate Cruz. The Mariners have brought in guys like Corey Hart and Logan Morrison and already have a surplus of corner infielders/first basemen/designated hitters. And the Orioles brought in Delmon Young which may keep them from making a big offer to Cruz.
Thus, a one-year deal may be the way to go for Cruz. On a short contract, a contending team that feels they need a big bat in the middle may be willing to part with a draft pick when they know they won't also be regretting paying him for too long. It would also allow Cruz, who last year was suspended 50 games as part of the Biogenesis scandal, to re-establish his value and perhaps earn a more lucrative deal next year.
While Cruz is not an on-base fiend by any measure (his .327 OBP last season was a three-year high), his powerful bat can make him plenty valuable. He slugged 27 home runs in 2013 while playing in just 109 games and has averaged 27 long balls per year over five seasons of 100 or more games. For his career, Cruz has hit for an 823 OPS.