Report: Cruz signs with Mariners

BALTIMORE— Nelson Cruz is reportedly off the market, signing a four-year, $57 million deal with Seattle according to Dominican Republic-based newspaper El Caribe on Monday morning.

If the report is true, the Orioles will get a draft pick as compensation for losing Cruz, who declined the club’s qualifying free agent offer last month.

Cruz, who had a career year with Baltimore in 2014, had said he wanted to return to the Orioles but ultimately it looks as if the length of the Mariners’ deal won out. The O’s made a three-year offer to keep Cruz, who they knew would likely seek a four or five-year pact, earlier this winter. The 34-year-old Cruz was seen as one of the premier bats on the market as he hit a career-high 40 homers with 108 RBIs in 159 games last season.

Cruz was named “Most Valuable Oriole” by members of the local media and he also had a strong postseason, hitting two home runs in three games during the American League Division Series against the Tigers. He had a double and two RBIs in the O’s four-game sweep loss to the Royals in the AL Championship Series.

The Mariners reportedly had a deal with Cruz last offseason before ownership blocked it and Baltimore ultimately signed the slugger to a one-year, $8 million bargain deal in one of the best moves made around baseball. If Monday’s report is true, the departure of Cruz places a lot of pressure on Baltimore to add another outfielder/power bat and could help them ramp up negotiations to retain longtime right fielder Nick Markakis. Baltimore was also rumored to have interested in Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp on Sunday night.

— Brittany Ghiroli

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