We’re back from the Thanksgiving break and things are immediately rolling.
Early today baseball reporters in the Dominican Republic broke the story that the Seattle Mariners have reached an agreement to sign slugging outfielder Nelson Cruz to a four-year contract.
This is still unconfirmed by the Mariners themselves, who never announce any big-money deals until the player passes a physical examination and signs on the dotted line. Cruz is supposedly on his way to Seattle to meet with team doctors now.
Cruz is 34 years old and it is apparently a four-year contract. He will likely serve as the Mariners designated hitter.
He hit .271 with 40 home runs and 108 RBI for Baltimore last year, slugging .525 in the process. Those numbers will come down with 81 home games at Safeco Field instead of HR-friendly Camden Yards, but he’ll still be a huge upgrade to a Mariners offense that was desperate for right-handed hitters last year.
This is a big move for Seattle – and they aren’t done yet. The Winter Meetings begin this Sunday and the Mariners will continue to be active (the first link down below has more on that).
I suppose we should rehash Nelson Cruz’s Cheney Stadium Moment – even if it was decidedly unpleasant when it actually occurred.
Cruz was with Nashville (then a Milwaukee Brewers affiliate) in 2005 when Tacoma faced the Sounds in the PCL Championship Series.
Tacoma went to Nashville and lost the first two games of the best-of-five series, which moved to Cheney Stadium for Game Three.
Over 5,000 Rainiers fans settled in to watch a tense game that was tied 2-2 after nine innings. Nobody scored in the 10th. Or the 11th. Or the 12th. We went to the 13th still tied.
In the top of the 13th, a walk and an error brought Cruz up to the plate with two on and two outs. Tacoma’s Cha Seung Baek left a pitch up in the strike zone, and Cruz hit one of the longest home runs I’ve ever seen in Tacoma.
The ball was struck to left field, and it appeared to still be on the rise as it passed the light standard. There was no question from the moment of contact that the ball – and the series, as far as Tacoma was concerned – was gone.
Nashville won the game, 5-2, and Cruz was named Most Valuable Player of the PCL Championship Series. Cruz went 6-for-13 with three home runs and eight RBI in the three-game sweep.
Ten years later, we can cheer for him.
The Cruz signing was part of a Thanksgiving weekend that saw big change in the AL West.
Mariners division rival Oakland made a curious move, trading their best player Josh Donaldson to Toronto for four players: Brett Lawrie and three prospects.
This could be a good long-term deal for Oakland if the prospects work out (or are traded for players who help in the big leagues), but it was strange to see a current playoff team make a trade like this.
I’ve linked to some analysis of this deal below.
- In his story on the Nelson Cruz signing, Bob Dutton also takes a look a what is next for the Mariners.
- This post from Ryan Divish looks at how Cruz has hit in the ballparks of the AL West.
- Keith Law thinks that the Cruz deal is good for 2015, but a potential disaster for 2016, 2017, and 2018 (subscription required).
- Dutton got new Rainiers manager Pat Listach on the phone and filed this story.
- In this column from Sunday, John McGrath writes that he thinks Jack Z and the Mariners are about to pull off a big move. This pre-dated the Cruz signing by 24 hours, so I guess he was right!
- Regarding the Josh Donaldson trade, Rob Neyer wrote that the Oakland A’s are not necessarily in rebuilding mode.
- Dave Cameron wonders what the A’s are doing.
- Bay Area baseball guru John Shea doesn’t get the trade.
- Geoff Baker explains the logic behind the Mariners signing Kyle Seager to a long-term extension, and suggests that the size of Seager’s contract may have helped the A’s decide to part ways with Donaldson.
- Owners of the Mariners new Class-A affiliate in Bakersfield are still trying to get a new ballpark built in Salinas despite a recent setback.
- Highly entertaining Reno Aces (and briefly Salt Lake Bees) slap-and-dasher Tony Campana jumped to the IL, signing a minor league deal with the Chicago White Sox.
- Jamie Moyer has quit the Philadelphia Phillies TV broadcast team. Ex-players: send in your resumes.
Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!