The flirtation with Nelson Cruz is over. Cruz is going to sign with Baltimore on a one year, eight million dollar deal. Although the Mariners were long rumored to be pursuing after Cruz, the power hitting OF will be taking his bat to the A.L. East. How harmful is Seattle not getting a deal done with Cruz going to be?
Spring Training has already not gotten off to the best of starts for the Seattle Mariners. Three stories have dominated so far, and none of them have been good. A lot has been made of Jesus Montero coming to camp overweight, taking that to be a sign of a lack of motivation. Personally, I think the Mariners already had written off Montero last year when he didn’t get recalled from Tacoma, and Seattle went with a rotation behind the plate of Henry Blanco and Humberto Quintero. The second was Franklin Gutierrez announcing he wouldn’t be playing this season due to health issues. Gutierrez had been a surprising free agent signing, and, if he was healthy, he would’ve been a nice addition to the Mariners OF. The third is Hisashi Iwakuma, the No. 2 starter in the rotation, would be unable to throw for 6-8 weeks. Unless Seattle has a Joe Saunders-like signing like they did last season, this is going to be a very young rotation going into the start of the season.
So, how does not signing Cruz hurt the line-up and the OF? The Mariners now need to urgently re-sign Kendrys Morales. Morales has proven his bat in Seattle hitting .277 with 23 HR and 80 RBI. The Mariners need protection for Cano, or pitchers are going to pitch around and take their chances with the rest of the Seattle order. Seattle’s starting OF with the loss of Gutierrez looks like it will be Logan Morrison, Dustin Ackley, and Michael Saunders. Willie Bloomquist can play OF and give a guy a night off, and, in Spring Training, the Mariners will take a look at Endy Chavez, Abraham Almonte, Stefen Romero, and Xavier Avery, the young OF Seattle obtained in the Morse trade with Baltimore. Morrison, the former Marlin, has been limited to 178 games over the past two seasons but says he is now 100 percent healthy. Ackley, the former 2B, hasn’t been an OF for a full season yet. Saunders has shown some pop, but he is a life-time .224 hitter. Would I have liked to seen Cruz in this OF? Yes, although the Mariners would’ve been giving away some defense, Cruz has shown a more consistent bat than the OFs out there. The OF is a little shaky, as of now, so we’ll watch to see if the Mariners add another veteran or play the hand they’ve been dealt.