The Orioles have signed OF/DH Nelson Cruz to an one-year, $8M deal , pending physical. As a result of the signing, the Orioles lose their second round draft pick and now won't make their first draft selection until midway through the third round. All along the line among many fans is that if the Orioles sign Cruz, hopefully it isn't too long of a deal. But now the question is raised: is just one year of Nelson Cruz worth giving up the draft pick? Have the Orioles gone TOO short term?
Cruz turned down a qualifying offer of $14.1 million from the Texas Rangers. He's probably thinking about now that he should have taken it.
Cruz will be the designated hitter for the Orioles, though he can fill in in the outfield if needed. It should only be when he has to, as his defense leaves a lot to be desired. But as a hitter-only, he isn't a bad option. The Orioles DH's hit .245/.293/.405 with a wOBA of .304. To contrast, Cruz last year hit .266/.327/.506, wOBA of .356. O's DH's were worth a WAR of 0.4 while Cruz put up 1.5 in just 109 games, and while playing 906 poor innings in right field.
Cruz isn't without his downfalls, of course. He was suspended for 50 games last year for PED use, and his last three seasons weren't nearly as good as the three seasons preceding that. And he'll turn 34 years old this season, so his career is likely trending downward.
If projections are your thing, here is what various projection systems say that Cruz will do in 2014:
Steamer: .254/.316/.463, .338 wOBA, 25 HR, 1.5 WAR
Oliver: .257/.322/.465, .341 wOBA, 27 HR, 2.5 WAR
ZiPS: .259/.316/.469, .340 wOBA, 27 HR, 1.6 WAR
Those numbers certainly don't seem out of line given his recent stats.
Kendrys Morales was my choice to fill the DH slot, but still, Cruz is a clear upgrade from what the Orioles had last year and his presence makes the Orioles a better team. As with Jimenez, time will only tell if it will help make the team good enough to compensate for the lost picks.