Why is Nelson Cruz still a free-agent?


Jul 31, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz (17) in the dugout before the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The former Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz still remains on the free-agent market.  May of the big names such as Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Shin-Soo Choo have been signed to huge contract over several years.

The main issue with Cruz is his $75 million over 4 years or roughly $18 million per year contract demand.   It was rumored that the Philadelphia Phillies considered him prior to signing Marlon Byrd to a $16 million over 2 years contract.

Also, another issue for Nelson Cruz is that the list of teams that were looking for a power outfielder is dwindling.   The Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners were the front-runners to sign Nelson Cruz.  Now, both Seattle and Texas have filled that slot and are either done with big signings or focusing on another area in the club.

You also have to question if the recent Bio-Genesis scandal and recent 50 game suspension has anything to do with team willingness to sign him.

For an extreme example, let’s look at Alex Rodriguez.  If he were a free-agent this year and have already served his suspension would any team sign him?  Maybe, but probably not at his ridiculous salary demands.

Now, Cruz and A-Rod are two totally different people.  Cruz did at least apologize about his involvement with Bio-Genesis, while Alex Rodriguez has been making a circus out of it in courts and the media.  A-Rod is like a child who has spilled his milk and is trying desperately to blame someone else and move the focus away from him.  Did Nelson Cruz deliver a heart-felt apology?  Probably not, as long as it took for the apology to come out, it seems doubtful.  But, nonetheless, Cruz did at least do the right thing and face a tough crowd to apology.  That’s more than some people do.

Another reason could be the lack of consistency and defensive that Nelson Cruz brings to the game.  Nelson Cruz did have 2 outstanding years at the plate, once in 2008 batting .330/.421/ .609/1.030 and again in 2010 with .318/.374/.576/.950.

Undoubtedly his bat in 2010 helped the Texas Rangers make it to their first World Series appearance.

After the 2010 season, Cruz batted around .260/.310/.470/.490 with about 25 home runs for the next 3 years.

His offensive power isn’t the main problem.  Some question his defensive abilities.  Last year, Cruz finished with an offensive WAR of 2.2 while his defensive WAR -0.8.

Looking back to prior years, Cruz has consistently under preformed defensively.

Overall, teams maybe considering adding Cruz to their lineup, while it appears his offense may add to their club, his defense will not.  Maybe a team will add him as a DH.  That would seem like a good fit for some clubs, it would even be a good fit for the Texas Rangers.

I don’t expect the 33-year-old Nelson Cruz to sign for more than 4 years.  When the dust settles and he does sign, I still expect him to sign for 3 years at about $12 million a year.  If I had to guess where, I’m still saying Seattle or maybe even the Orioles.   I would say that the Texas Rangers are doubtful, one because Shin-Soo Choo has his jersey number, and two, Jon Daniels and him have already talked, and it seems their conversion was more like an exit interview than trying to negotiate to bring him back