Rob Long: Cruz-ing
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Where would the Baltimore Orioles be without Nelson Cruz? That’s a question frequently asked but no O’s fan REALLY wants to think about. Not only has Cruz led the Birds in several important offensive categories like home runs (24), RBI (64), and on base percentage (.360), he’s provided a veteran presence as well. Not saying the Orioles were lacking leadership, but it never hurts adding more positive personalities to play-off contender.
The issue is Cruz signed a one-year deal with the club and his numbers as the team approaches the half-way point, Nelson is putting himself in position to control the market as much as a 34 year old (his age at Free-Agency) can control it.
Cruz signed a one-year $8 million contract which according to reports was not the best offer on the table. Maybe the combination of the ballpark, line-up and the fact the O’s are a play-off contender led to Cruz landing in Charm City. Whatever the reason, it’s been a win/win for both parties.
However, if Nelson Cruz continues at this pace, he will be looking at contract that includes upwards of three years and $15 million per year. Is he worth it? That’s a question for the front office but with the inconsistent play of Chris Davis it’s not a bad contract. He will turn 37 at the end of the contract and if the team gets two years out of him and a couple of post-season appearances, the money will not be an issue.
There are plenty of downsides to a contract of that magnitude for Cruz but good teams don’t live with that fear. You’re not gambling on a guy who hasn’t produced for you before, you paying a guy who, if he continues at this pace, earned that deal while playing for you.
We have to let it play out but as of now, Nelson Cruz is currently in the process of making a lot of money for himself. With the list of teams that will be in search of a power hitting outfielder/designated hitter, you might want to consider retaining his services so your team isn’t added to that list.
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