Following his 50-game suspension for PED’s as a member of the Texas Rangers in 2013, slugger Nelson Cruz signed a 1 year, $8 million dollar contract with the Baltimore Orioles. Many regard this as the “move of the off-season”, considering the gaudy numbers that Cruz has put up with his new club.
This seems like an ideal situation for the 34-year-old, who would be due for a huge pay day in free-agency in a few months. However, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Orioles have expressed interest in bringing Cruz back, and that interest appears to be mutual.
Although it’s incredibly rare for a player in Cruz’s position sign an extension before testing the free-agent waters, this might be an exception. As Heyman points out, many factors have to be considered in this situation. The Orioles struck gold with that bargain of a contract, and just maybe, Baltimore is is the ideal place for Cruz long-term.
Camden Yards has been very kind to the powerful outfielder/DH, who leads the American League with 34 home runs. Although, being in a lineup with Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Nick Markakis, and J.J. Hardy has helped his cause as well. If Baltimore is unable to get a deal done with Cruz before free-agency begins, they will most likely extend the qualifying offer, which projects to be about $15 million. In all likelihood, that’s significantly less than what he could receive elsewhere.
It still appears unlikely that Cruz remains with the O’s in 2015 and beyond, but it’s becoming a distinct possibly, and might be the right choice. This season, Cruz is mashing to an .834 OPS, and is 5th in the AL with 88 RBI. His surprising contributions have been vital to the success of the Orioles, who currently lead the AL East by 7 games.