Orioles announce signing of Nelson Cruz, designate Chris Jones for assignment

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles officially announced the signing of free agent Nelson Cruz. Left-handed reliever Chris Jones was designated for assignment.

The Orioles officially announced the signing of free agent Nelson Cruz to a one-year contract on Monday evening. With a full 40-man roster, that necessitated removing someone. The team designated minor league lefty Chris Jones, acquired when Luis Ayala was traded to Atlanta, for assignment.

In the accompanying press release, the team provided the standard set of hype statistics. The team would like for you to know that Cruz has 22 home runs in each of the last five seasons and is one of only 13 hitters to have 20+ home runs in those seasons. As you'd expect for a player who hits 20+ home runs, he's also slugged over .500 in four of the last five seasons, one of nine players to do so.

Not to be outdone, Cruz has also shone in the postseason, batting .278/.336/.683 with 14 home runs in 137 postseason plate appearances. This places him fifth all-time in postseason slugging percentage and tied for 11th in home runs. That does not suck. He hit six home runs in six games against the Tigers in the 2011 ALCS and was the MVP of that series.

Unsurprisingly, the press release does not make any mention of the fact that Cruz was suspended for 50 games just last season. They do mention 2013 long enough to say that Cruz was named an All-Star for the second time in his career in 2013.

One positive spin on Cruz's 2013 numbers - he batted .266/.327/.506 in 109 games and hit 27 home runs - is that, with the Biogenesis investigation underway, you might think he stopped using whatever he may have used in the past. This may not be the case, but it's not crazy to look at it that way.

In any case, Cruz is an Oriole now, so we will all hope he keeps up that pace of home runs in 2014. He'll wear number 23.

About Jones, if the Orioles get to a point where they miss Chris Jones, something has gone horribly wrong with their season. It is a surprise that the O's didn't choose to jettison one of their extra outfielders, like Steve Pearce, Maybe they figured Jones would be the most likely player to clear waivers. With Troy Patton suspended for the first 25 games, the team will be short on left-handed relief options, only not really, because they've got Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, and T.J. McFarland as choices and there won't be three lefties in the bullpen.

As they did with Ubaldo Jimenez, the O's will be introducing Nelson Cruz with a press conference at 9:30 on Tuesday morning. The conference will be carried live on MASN as well as on orioles.com.

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