After much of the buzz on Friday surrounded free agents Kendrys Morales and Ervin Santana, the Orioles instead tabbed Nelson Cruz as their man a day later.
According to multiple outlets, the Orioles have agreed to a one-year, $8 million deal — which includes incentives — with the former Texas Rangers outfielder. Unlike Morales, Cruz has the ability to play the outfield as the Orioles have been seeking upgrades at the designated hitter spot as well as left field.
The deal is pending a physical and hasn’t been announced by the organization.
Cruz hit .266 with 27 home runs and 76 runs batted in last year but was suspended 50 games for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. Because of that and the Rangers making Cruz a qualifying offer at the start of the offseason, the market for Cruz has been quite slow with teams needing to forfeit a first-round pick to sign him.
Because they already surrendered their first-round pick earlier this week to sign starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez to a four-year, $50 million contract, the Orioles will only give up their second-round pick (the 55th overall selection) to bring Cruz to Baltimore.
The 33-year-old Dominican is a career .268 hitter with 157 home runs in 3,182 career plate appearances spanning nine major league seasons but saw his numbers take off in 2009 when he became a permanent full-time player in the big leagues.
With the Cruz signing the Baltimore payroll is expected to be in the neighborhood of $104 to 105 million, which would be the highest in franchise history.