When Alex Rodriguez went to the Texas Rangers, baseball teams learned a great numbers of things. The most important is that one person does not a team make. Although Rodriguez was very productive in Texas, it wasn’t enough to get Texas into the postseason, and he eventually forced the Rangers to trade him for under value as the Rangers were limited in partners that would take Rodriguez’s massive deal. The Mariners have given out their massive deal, the third highest in baseball history, to Robinson Cano mimicking the first part of what the Rangers did. Now, it’s time to surround Cano with pieces to take the Mariners to the next level. One of those pieces might be a former Ranger, power hitting OF Nelson Cruz.
Why the Mariners Need Cruz. Since Kendrys Morales as of now remains unsigned, the Mariners are definitely missing a complimentary bat to take heat of Cano. The line-up needs to be built so pitchers can’t just avoid Cano and pitch around him. Without Morales, the Mariners only have two players on the roster who had over 20 HR and 50 RBI: Kyle Seager and Justin Smoak. Cruz has delivered at least 22 HR and 76 RBI in every season since 2009. Since 2009, Cruz is tied with Evan Longoria for 17th place with 135 home runs. The Mariners need a power hitting OF, and Cruz, already familiar with the A.L. West, would be a good fit.
Why the Mariners May Pass on Cruz. Besides adding another bat, this team still needs to add at least one more starting pitcher and a closer. The pitching market is moving much slower than batters. Many starters are still available in the FA market while deals for Cano, Brian McCann, and Jacoby Ellsbury have already gotten done. Depending on what they are willing to spend on free agents going forward, Seattle may focus more on their pitching needs. The Mariners have been aggressive this week in case they miss on Cruz: they signed former Brewer Corey Hart and traded with the Marlins for Logan Morrison. Hart missed the 2013 season with an injury, and the Mariners signed him to a one-year deal. In his last three full seasons, Hart had 31-26-and-30 HR. Morrison, who was acquired for relief pitcher Carter Capps, had played parts of the last four seasons with the Marlins with his best season being 2011: .247-23-72. Both Hart and Morrison have experience playing OF.
The Market For Cruz. Right now, besides Seattle, the two teams linked heavily to Cruz are the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles. Baltimore traded Jim Johnson to Oakland, a move that was seen as freeing up salary to go after a big-name FA like Cruz. The Rangers and Orioles are also rumored to have their eyes on another power-hitting FA OF Shin-Soo Choo. Obviously, neither team is going to sign both Choo and Cruz, so if Choo goes first, that might open the negotiations for Cruz, or vice versa.