Rangers Should Not Give Nelson Cruz Qualifying Offer, Likely Will


Per ESPN Dallas’s Todd Willis, Jon Daniels said the Rangers “will likely make a qualifying offer to [Nelson] Cruz.”

This comes at the heels of something I wrote last night — mentioning it’s not something I would do — but it’s fairly obvious that Daniels has a better grasp on business than I do, and it’s also to say I don’t have to agree with everything the front office chooses to do, even if I do find them to be right significantly more often than not.

Cruz will be entering into his age-34 season, where hitter decline historically becomes more pronounced, and is coming off a .266/.327/.506 (122 wRC+) season where he played in 109 games, shortened, of course, by a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.

i-13I like Nelson Cruz a lot as a baseball player, because let’s be honest: Dude can absolutely shit on the baseball when he’s in the box, proven by depositing 27 HRs in only 456 plate appearances in 2013. He has delivered Ranger fans a plethora of awe-inspiring moments in the past, most notably his historic ALCS MVP performance in 2011 where he hit an ALCS record 6 HRs and drove in an ALCS record 13 runs in 6 games.

But in acknowledging the good, with Nellie, he is also one of the more overrated players in the American League. People fall in love with the power numbers, and I get that, but many national and local media members do a disservice to the Rangers and their fan base by scapegoating Cruz as the reason, above all, for why Texas didn’t reach the playoffs this year.

Depending on whether you follow FanGraphs, which had Cruz at +1.5 fWAR in 109 games, or Baseball Reference, which had him at +2.0 bWAR, you are essentially looking at a +2.5- to +3.0-win player in 2013 — given he played a full season. The extra win he theoretically would have delivered over the course of 2013 was made up for by Alex Rios (+1.1 fWAR, +1.0 bWAR in 47 games with Texas), and Rios actually plays defense and steals bases.

To that end, the perception of Nelson Cruz’s overall contributions significantly outweigh what he is in reality: A designated hitter. Which, if Jon Daniels indeed gives him the $14 million qualifying offer, is what Cruz will be paid to be.

Given extreme market inflation in recent years, aided by a shitload of added television revenue, the value of each win has grown to about $6 million. So if Cruz accepts the one-year, $14 million deal, he will be paid like a +2.0- to +2.5-win player, or about what he would have been in 2013 had he not experienced a 50-game suspension. Since a DH doesn’t provide any value on defense, and since Nelson Cruz offers next to no value stealing bases, his bat is going to have to be damn good to justify $14 million, according to the WAR/$ paradigm.

Should Cruz reject the qualifying offer, the Rangers will be entitled to the first round draft pick from whichever team he chose to sign with. But, considering a murky market for alleged PED users, and the fact that Nellie has stated repeatedly he wants to return to Texas, it seems like a foregone conclusion that, if he’s offered, he will take it.

I’m not fundamentally opposed to Nelson being the DH, because that’s truly where he belongs at this stage of his career. I’m just saying it’s not something I would do. That money would be better spent elsewhere.

 

  • BZ

    I don’t think it would be the worst thing to happen if he accepts the offer, considering the state of the Rangers offense. A one year overpay at DH is much better than a multi-year overpay (which someone might do, netting the Rangers a first-rounder in the process).

    My concern is the gaping hole in LF, unless we’re going to roll with Gentry full time. Add if we do that, where does Profar slot? Super-Utility IFer, a la FACE in 2012? Or do we slide Kinsler to 1B and slot Profar at 2B? If we sign Abreu does he spend the first half of the year in AA/AAA or does he play immediately?

    Assuming that both Abreu and Cruz are signed and both are expected to play immediately, that’s when there becomes a logjam in the IF/DH (note: I am assuming Moreland is out for all these discussions). And then there is the matter of starter #5 and C to worry about with the payroll budget.

    • Eric Reining

      Okay, a couple things: First, under any scenario, Craig Gentry will not start the season in full-time role. He will be the Rangers 4th outfielder, and depending whether or not JD gets an everyday left fielder, he will either platoon there or in center field. Leonys Martin had a rough time hitting lefties in 2013.

      Second, Jurickson Profar will be an everyday player in 2013. He will not be limited to a S-UTI role. If the plan is to move Kins to 1st, Profar will take on 2B; if Nelson Cruz for some reason isn’t the DH, I suspect Profar will take over 3B, with Adrian Beltre moving to DH.

      • delashmit

        No way you want Adrian Beltre to be a full time DH. His glove is still the best in the league at 3rd base.

  • delashmit

    I totally disagree with your opinion. The Rangers should definitely give Nellie Cruz a qualifying offer. In fact, they need to sign him. We do not need to lose any more power. However, at his age any contract longer than 2 years is too long.

    • Eric Reining

      Power is quite overrated with a .330 or so OBP. At $14 million, the Rangers could easily find a player with less power but more on-base ability, which would better serve the offense.

      • Andy

        1. We tried that with Berkman this year. His OBP (.340) wasn’t terrible, and it was 100 points above his BA (which WAS terrible). He was a failure.

        2. As I just said in another comment, power is important if you can’t hit well with RISP. Unless the majority of our hitters can pick up their numbers with RISP, power is important. Not saying we should abandon OBP, just that OBP with no power has its shortcomings too.

        • Eric Reining

          Lance Berkman was a failure, indeed, but he gets an unfair amount of hate from the Ranger fan base. Dude was injured. I do believe power is important, and power contributes to on-base percentage, but there are teams — like the Rays — who are very successful with getting on base without supplying a ton of pop.

          • delashmit

            Lance Berkman should have never been signed which I stated from Day 1. Do not sign any more Over The Hill ex Astros. Berkman and Oswalt should go back to Houston or Mississippi together and sit on the porch and POUT together.

          • Eric Reining

            Lance Berkman was not over the hill. He was hurt. There is a difference.

          • delashmit

            Lance Berkman was ans is over the hill.

          • Andy

            This is not about hate. This is simply about him not working out like we’d hoped. I don’t hate Berkman.

      • delashmit

        So Power is overrated and the Rangers can easily find a player to replace Nellie. I guess you think that they can easily fill in gaps in the line up with the abysmal way they did it this year.

        • Eric Reining

          League average is “abysmal”?

          I need to adjust my vocabulary, apparently.

  • Andy

    There just aren’t a lot of good bats available this offseason. The few that are (Cano, Choo perhaps) are likely to cost tons of money. If we want power, Cruz is one of the best bets for significantly fewer years and dollars.

    • Eric Reining

      This is a good argument, to sign him because there aren’t many other options. I just don’t like the prospect of a 34 year-old Cruz for $14 million, especially since the payroll flexibility is limited as is.

      • Andy

        I can agree with that. But we need power. There isn’t much available. Scarcity, supply, demand, price goes up, etc. Unless we can hit with runners in scoring position the way the Cardinals did this year, we aren’t going to score a ton of runs with a bunch of singles hitters.

        • Eric Reining

          Andy, surely you have read enough of Joey Matches to know that hitting well with RISP is completely random. You can’t scout players based on their ability to produce with men on base, because things like BABIP come into play.

          • Andy

            Yes. It being random is exactly why power helps.

    • delashmit

      I am not sold on Choo. Cano plays defense at a spot we do not need help. But most importantly if what Cano wants is anywhere near accurate there is no way thew Rangers will pay that much money. Yankees pay Cano (not likely that much since George s. is dead). Dodgers pay Cano (apparently they have unlimited money).