While the Mariners have seemingly had at least some interest in Cruz throughout the offseason, talks appear to have intensified within the last few days. The two sides are looking at a shorter deal, but Seattle may be willing to offer an option for a third year, or perhaps even a guarantee.
Cruz, 33, has been struggling to round up much interest since filing for free agency. He initially asked for a four-year contract worth $75 million, and as recently as two weeks ago had reportedly not come down much from that original number. He also declined a qualifying offer from the Texas Rangers, meaning that any other team that signs him will be required to forfeit a high draft pick. The Mariners already lost their first-round pick by signing Robinson Cano and would thus be required to give up their second-round pick if they sign Cruz.
Cruz still managed to hit 27 home runs in 2013, matching his average over the last five seasons, despite playing just 109 game due to suspension. He finished the season with an .833 OPS, which was his best mark since 2010. However, given Cruz's age and the fact that he was associated with Biogenesis, there may be some concerns about his performance moving forward.
The Mariners do not have a particularly strong need for a corner outfielder/designated hitter type, but there is little question that Cruz would help them win in 2013. At the very least, he would add an extra level of security to the lineup.
The club also signed Corey Hart this offseason, and acquired Logan Morrison from the Miami Marlins. With Justin Smoak at first base and Jesus Montero potentially demanding playing time, the team has a glut of decent players for just a handful of spots. That said, Morrison, Smoak and Montero have all struggled at times, and Hart missed all of 2013 following two knee surgeries.