After Shin-Soo Choo signed with the Rangers on Saturday, there's just one free agent outfielder unsigned out of our top ten – Nelson Cruz, last of those same Texas Rangers. And keep in mind, that top ten list isn't filled with players like Jacoby Ellsbury and Choo – guys like Corey Hart, Michael Morse, Jason Kubel, and Nate McLouth were on the list.
If there's a team out there that wants a legitimate outfield option, they really have two choices – forfeit a draft pick and sign Cruz, or dump some prospects onto a team in an attempt to acquire someone like Domonic Brown, Josh Willingham, Yoenis Cespedes, Andre Ethier, or Matt Kemp. Compared to the cost in prospects and/or contracts already in place, doesn't giving up a draft pick and giving Cruz something like four years and $60 million sound pretty damn good?
Now lets be honest: Cruz is obviously not in the same class as Choo, or Ellsbury. He's a 33-year old with old player skills – poor defense, an above average amount of strikeouts, and lots of power. His skills are nowhere near to the extremes of a player like Adam Dunn, but we all saw how Dunn immediately fell off a cliff after signing with the White Sox.
There are also red flags with Cruz aside from his abilities. He was suspended 50 games last year as fallout from the Biogenesis investigation. Injuries to his left thigh and hamstring hampered him for most of the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Over his career, his line away from Rangers Ballpark is just .242/.299/.435. Only 38 of his 157 career home runs have come against left-handers – and only 14 of those 38 have been on the road.
But if you're a team like the Mariners that *still* needs offense, despite signing Robinson Cano and Hart and trading for Logan Morriosn, how can you not at least spin the tires on Cruz at this point in time, even though they've apparently reached their payroll limit? If you're the Baltimore Orioles, who currently have David Lough and Nolan Reimold plugged into two starting spots of their lineup, wouldn't making Cruz an offer be a logical step towards competing in 2014?
There are a lot of teams out there that still need an upgrade in the outfield, and signing Cruz is the easiest way to upgrade. He's not the most ideal hitter out there, but he's the most legitimate option still left on the market that wouldn't require a team to put a severe dent in their farm system.