Nelson Cruz free agency: Mariners still eyeing up outfielder

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Mariners and Cruz have often been linked together this offseason. Could a deal be forthcoming?

The Seattle Mariners are once again taking a good, hard look at free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz, reports Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

Free agency has not been kind to Cruz thus far. He entered the offseason with dreams of a four-year contract worth $75 million dancing in his head, but nobody was willing to pony up that kind of cash. A few teams have been interested in him over the past few months, but most have found other options. The Orioles signed Delmon Young, the Diamondbacks traded for Mark Trumbo and the Diamondbacks brought in Shin-Soo Choo.

Any team that does want to sign Cruz will also be required to give up a draft pick after he turned down a qualifying offer from the Rangers following the conclusion of the 2013 season. That could make teams less likely to offer the kind of deal for which Cruz is looking. He reportedly has not backed down far from his lofty demands.

Cruz may not fare the best in Seattle's Safeco Field if his career splits are any indication. He has been a .294/.356/.555 hitter in Texas and a .242/.299/.435 hitter on the road. Over 48 games played in Safeco, Cruz has hit just .238/.299/.442. The Mariners did move the walls in slightly prior to 2013, which makes the park a little more hitter friendly, at least.

Well Cruz has averaged 27 home runs per season over the last five years and hit .266/.327/.506 with 27 long balls in 2013, he comes with risks. The most notable, of course, is his link to Biogenesis. He was among those suspended 50 games for that connection last season and it's anyone's guess as to how he will perform now that he is presumably not using performance enhancing drugs. Of course, the fact that he played in just 106 games makes the 27 home runs all that more impressive.

Cruz is also already 33 years old and will turn 34 mid-season. A four-year deal would keep him on a team until he is 38. Typically, players find it difficult to keep up production at that age.

Still, the Mariners do still have interest. Where they would play him is anyone's guess. Corey Hart, Logan Morrison, Justin Smoak, and Jesus Montero may all need positions next year, which might lock up all of first base, designated hitter and both corner outfield spots. Of course, Cruz would certainly deserve an everyday role over most of those players, leaving the Mariners in a bind as to how to get all of them playing time.

There's little doubt that Cruz could help the Mariners next year. However, with the matter of draft pick compensation and players already on Seattle's roster, they may only be willing to sign him if he comes cheaper than his current asking price.

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