How will Tomas signing impact Cruz?
Now that the D-backs have reportedly signed Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, the market for Nelson Cruz could begin to take shape in the coming days.
With Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez and Tomas all inking deals within the past week, Cruz — and Melky Cabrera, to an extent — now sit atop a relatively thin free-agent class as the top available power-hitters. Cruz, keep in mind, declined a qualifying offer from the Orioles, meaning any team looking to sign him would need to surrender a draft pick, in order to do so.
Cruz remains a good fit for a Mariners team that is known to be in the market for a right-handed, power-hitting outfielder. Seattle had interest in Cruz last offseason, but concerns over his 50-game suspension the previous season for violating the Basic Agreement and its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program ultimately steered the Mariners away. He went on to hit a career-best — and Major League-leading — 40 home runs after signing a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles.
The Mariners have been tied to a number of big-name outfielders as potential trade targets and they were also believed to have had some interest in Victor Martinez, Hanley Ramirez, Michael Cuddyer, Billy Butler and Tomas — all of whom have already signed elsewhere. Though they’re kicking the tires on various trade possibilities, signing Cruz would allow them to fill their needs without giving away any of their young Major League talent or top prospects.
The Blue Jays could be another team that ramps up their pursuit of Cruz, though that will likely depend on what happens with Cabrera. If Cabrera signs elsewhere, then Cruz would make sense as a potential replacement, considering the draft pick that the Jays would lose by signing Cruz would be somewhat off-set by the pick gained from whoever inks Cabrera.
A return to the Orioles is also still an option for Cruz, though the O’s focus right now seems to be on wrapping up a deal with fellow outfielder Nick Markakis.
A number of other teams could enter the picture as the market continues to thin, but those seem to be the most likely landing spots, as of right now, for the defending home run champion.
— Paul Casella