What impact will Nelson Cruz have on joining the Seattle Mariners?


The first day of December is here and the Seattle Mariners seemed to have opened a Christmas present early with the 4-year/$57 million deal with former Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz.

This sounds similar to the deal that the Mariners were trying to put together least Hot Stove season, but before the deal could be finalized the ownership group rejected the deal.

This time things seem to be going differently and that Nelson Cruz will indeed be joining the Seattle Mariners in the American League West, which might not be good news for the Texas Rangers.   During the 2013 Hot Stove season the Texas Rangers made a qualifying offer to Nelson Cruz, but he declined and opted to test the free-agency waters for a multi-year deal.  Things didn’t work out that way and he ended up signing a one-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles.

It wasn’t a huge surprise that the Texas Rangers didn’t re-signed him, especially after acquiring Shin-Shoo Choo from free-agency.   Also, the Rangers probably questioned what Cruz, at the time was 33 years old, would be able to do during the 2014 season and beyond.  And that signing him to a multi-year deal didn’t make sense for the organization.

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Those reasons might be why he work so hard to bounce back from injuries and his off-field issues with his involvement with the Balco incident.  During the 2014 season with the Orioles Cruz went on a complete tear with a batting line of .271/.333/.525/.859 with 32 doubles, 2 triples, a league leading 40 home runs and 102 RBI.  Remember, Adrian Beltre only had 19 home runs and 77 RBI.  The most home runs he ever hit with the Texas Rangers was 33 back in 2009 and he only hit 18 home runs during the 2013 season (he was suspended 50 games at the end of the season).

Now that Nelson Cruz is set to return to the American League West he’ll be playing seeing Safeco Field a lot more.  Over his career he’s played 52 games/204 plate-appearance there with a batting line of .234/.309/.440/.749 with 11 doubles, 9 home runs and 19 RBI over his 10 year career.

Video: 07/25/14 Nelson Cruz’s laser solo shot at Safeco Field
Nelson Cruz hits a laser solo home run to left field that leaves the park in a hurry, his 29th of the season, to open the scoring

Here his spray chart from the 2014 season.


Overall the park dimensions seem to be similar to Orioles Park at Camden Yards, more recently because of the changes they made to the ballpark in 2013.  According to the Seattle Mariners home page they made the following changes to the outfield in 2013, mainly to help increase the home run totals.

Description of the changes to the outfield dimensions at Safeco Field in 2013 – via Seattle home page

  • In the left field corner:
    • The distance down the left field foul line remains the same at 331 feet.
    • Instead of jutting out quickly to 341-feet, the wall juts out to 337 feet.
    • The hand-operated scoreboard has been moved, and as a result, the height of the outfield wall will be eight feet from foul pole to foul pole.
  • From the left field corner to the left field power alley, the wall has been moved in four-feet.
  • The distance at the left field power alley has decreased from 390 feet to 378 feet.
    • From left center to straightaway center field, the distance the wall was moved varies from four-feet to a maximum of 17 feet. At straightaway center field, the distance has decreased from 405 feet to 401 feet.
  • From straightaway center to the right center power alley, the wall will move in four feet. The distance at the power alley will decrease from 385 feet to 381 feet.
  • From the right field power alley to the right field line, the dimensions remain the same.

It seems like he’s setup to do very well with the Seattle Mariners and possibly better than he’s done over his previous 52 games there.  While with the Texas Rangers he did hit very well at Globe Life Park.   Over the past 10 seasons he has a batting line of .294/.356/.555/.911 with 87 doubles, 6 triples and 93 home runs over 403 games/1603 plate-appearances.  During his best season with the Rangers, 96 or more games, he had a batting line of .318/.374/.576/.950 with 28 doubles, 1 triple, 29 home runs (most he had while he was a Rangers, and 87 RBI during the 2011 season.

Nelson Cruz did a lot of hard work to earn a multi-year contract and will be a nice addition to the Seattle Mariners.  He’ll definitively make the team better and turn the Mariners in a playoff contender.  He’ll likely hit very well in Seattle and when he visits Texas.  This could mean the Rangers will have a very tough time against the Mariners during the 2015 season.