It seemed like a foregone conclusion all winter long that the Mariners would eventually sign free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz.
That turned out to be incorrect. Over the weekend, Cruz inked a one-year, $8 million contract with the Baltimore Orioles.
What a strange saga that turned out to be.
First off, Cruz turned down a one-year, $14 million deal with the Rangers in November – that was the “qualifying offer” the Rangers offered their free agent outfielder, the exact same deal the Mariners offered Kendrys Morales back in November.
Both players turned down those qualifying offers and became free agents, presumably thinking they could get a multi-year deal worth a lot more guaranteed money with another team.
Next on the Cruz front, there were rumors swirling during the Winter Meetings that he had several multi-year offers and that the Mariners were one of the teams trying to get him. Apparently that turned out to be nothing but rumors – he would’ve taken a multiple-year deal over a one-year contract, one would think.
Now Cruz signs one of those “show me” contracts, where he commits for one year and goes back on the free agent market next winter. If he puts together a big season this year, he should get a lot more cash next winter.
This season, he’ll make $6 million less than if he had simply accepted the Rangers qualifying offer. Whoops!
Whatever, he’s an Oriole now. I know many Mariners fans who were hoping the team wouldn’t sign him due to a host of red flags (age, home park in Texas boosting his stats, Biogenesis suspension, etc.). That group got what it wanted.*
Looking at this from a Rainiers angle, no Nelson Cruz means Stefen Romero is still in the picture to fight for a big league roster spot. Cruz would’ve eliminated the need for that “right-handed bat” role that Romero wants to earn.
- Ryan Divish thinks that Cruz never wanted to play for the Mariners.
- Now that Cruz has signed elsewhere, are the Mariners considering bringing back Kendrys Morales?
- Exhibition games begin on Thursday, and pitching plans have been set.
- Tacoma Rainiers 2013 MVP Abraham Almonte has a real good shot at making the Mariners opening day roster.
- Bob Dutton of The News Tribune took a look at Kyle Seager.
- The comeback of Corey Hart will be a key factor in the performance of the 2014 Mariners.
- Stephen Pryor – coming off surgery – threw his first bullpen on Sunday. I wasn’t expecting this so early in camp; definitely good news.
- Brandon Maurer had his back “lock up” on him while attempting to throw a bullpen on Friday. He had the same thing happen to him early in a regular-season start for the Rainiers last year.
- John McGrath reminds us in a fun column that historically, players showed up at spring training overweight and out-of-shape. In fact, that’s why spring training was invented!
- After decades of covering baseball, Larry Stone thinks that he is finally refusing to be seduced by spring training optimism. We’ll see about that, Stoney.
- Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak knows this is a big year for him.
- Add Dustin Ackley to the long list of players who have learned from reading Harvey Dorfman’s book “The Mental Side Of Baseball.”
- Here is Monday morning’s camp round-up from Ryan Divish. I liked his pictures of the daily organization workout plan – that is some behind-the-scenes stuff.
- The Red Sox are giving former Rainiers star Mike Carp some reps at third base. That would be something.
- Friend-of-the-blog Rob Neyer took a look at the winter trade of former Rainiers pitcher Doug Fister.
- Eddie O’Brien of Seattle’s famed O’Brien twins passed away at the age of 83. Eddie reached the majors as an infielder, then converted to pitcher in the PCL and made a few MLB appearances on the mound.
- Interesting story on a Rays September call-up who can trace the existence of his baseball career to a single pitch in high school. One pitch – if it went a different way, he would not have had an opportunity in pro ball.
- The new rules regarding catchers blocking home plate are official – here is a clear explanation.
- Here’s a link for my Mom, and everyone else who loves these: a spring training crossword puzzle!
Come back on Wednesday, when I’ll provide a long list of candidates but no actual facts about who will be in the Rainiers starting rotation this season. I will, however, explain why we have no idea who the starting five will be.
* My opinion: I didn’t want Cruz on a big contract, but I would have been happy if the Mariners got him on this one-year, $8 million deal. Not a lot of risk there.