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Should Nelson Cruz take a one-year deal?

Jan 5, 2014, 8:10 PM EDT

nelson cruz ap AP

We’re about a week into January and free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz is still without a home. The reasons are plentiful: he is tied to draft pick compensation, he has a history of involvement with performance-enhancing drugs, he has been prone to injuries, he is 33 years old, and he provides no value on the bases and with his defense.

As a result, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that some general managers think a one-year “pillow contract” would be a good idea for Cruz. If Cruz is able to stay out of trouble, stay healthy, and stay productive, he might have an easier time securing a multi-year deal next off-season despite being a year older.

Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre exemplified how a pillow contract can benefit a player. After finishing up an injury-plagued 2009 season with the Mariners in which he posted a career-low 83 adjusted OPS, Beltre took a one-year, $9 million deal with the Red Sox which included a $5 million second-year player option. Beltre’s adjusted OPS went up to 141 and he finished with 7.8 WAR according to Baseball Reference. During the off-season, he signed a five-year, $80 million deal with the Rangers at the age of 32.

Taking a one-year deal would be a bit of a risk to Cruz. He can likely still get a three- or four-year deal but he will have to lower his price into the Curtis Granderson area ($60 million). He could get more next off-season with a productive 2014, but he could also further sink his value if he gets hurt or struggles. In such an event, he would torpedo any hope of getting one more big deal before his career is over.

  1. Glenn - Jan 5, 2014 at 8:25 PM

    Would a team be willing to give up a draft pick for one year of Nelson Cruz at free agent money?

    • masher1965 - Jan 5, 2014 at 9:23 PM

      At a small enough price, why not ?? It will depend on the team . If a team has a good young farm system, but still a year or two away at the major league level, they may make a 1 year offer, lose the draft pick, bring some respectability to the club, give the farm system a little more time to get ready and see if Cruz can get his big payday next year.

      • clydeserra - Jan 5, 2014 at 11:06 PM

        A team with a protected pick and a need for a high priced DH.

        Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of those.

  2. spytdi - Jan 5, 2014 at 9:15 PM

    He may end up back with the Rangers as the DH on a 1 year deal.

  3. cackalackyank - Jan 5, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    He is going to have to decide soon if he wants to play a full season. I think it is less than 50 days until roster players report. He took the suspension, he had to realize that was going to impact his market.

    • clydeserra - Jan 5, 2014 at 11:05 PM

      Its not the suspension. Its the draft pick, the bad defense and the age.

    • mustang6984 - Jan 6, 2014 at 3:29 AM

      Forty days until pitchers & catchers report. Getting closer…day by day!

  4. mustang6984 - Jan 6, 2014 at 3:27 AM

    Let him go to the Yankees. They like the dopers.

  5. mustang6984 - Jan 6, 2014 at 3:28 AM

    Let him go to the Yankees. They seem to prefer the druggies

  6. louhudson23 - Jan 6, 2014 at 4:15 AM

    Players deserve whatever they make. The money is there,better them than the owners…But the incessant concern over one huge number versus another less huge number is pretty silly. Take a 4 year 60 million deal with the team of YOUR choice and go play some baseball. Fretting over it is just fretting over the size of your agents cut….If you can’t insure the easy life and future security of your family with 60 million,then 75 or a hundred isn’t going to do it either. Playing for anyone other than your first or second choice of teams because of money is not something you will look favorably on in twenty years…besides the uncertainty of it all,the money does nothing to insure success,wins,or create teammates,managers or cities that you enjoy and want to be around. The independence and ability to call your own shots is worth more than the (possible)extra money in the end….Pedroia and others have taken the right approach….Play ball and live where you want and get paid a lot to do it…..who cares whether you could(or couldn’t) have gotten more elsewhere….

  7. Walk - Jan 6, 2014 at 8:14 AM

    I took part in a poll on another website trying ti pick the first player this offseason to take the qualifying offer. Cruz, if i remember correctly was either the number one or two candidate for that in most peoples thinking. I had him as my first choice to accept. Considering his situation i thought it would have been a good decision to accept a one year deal to build his value. I was surprised to see him decline as i did not think anyone would offer more than the qualifying offer in aav even if they went to more than one year in length.

  8. markofapro - Jan 6, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    Rangers ain’t gonna sign him.

  9. yordo - Jan 6, 2014 at 3:38 PM

    Always accept those qualifying offers, kids.

  10. braxtonrob - Jan 8, 2014 at 6:15 AM

    He’s a .260 hitter, and a liability on defense.
    He may hit 30 HR’s every year but that fact isn’t going to be fully appreciated (by powerless teams) until about June.

    He’ll take a 1-year deal but it won’t be with the Rangers, I guarantee it.

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