Nelson Cruz is Seattle’s 57 Million Dollar Man…
The 34-year-old Dominican professional baseball player has agreed to a $57 million, four-year contract with the Seattle Mariners.
Seattle pursued Cruz last year but when it didn’t work out, he went on to lead the majors in home runs playing on a one-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles. The Mariners were quick to try to find a deal that would work for both sides as soon as this offseason arrived.
“We were open and honest as we could possibly be and say, `This is the guy that we want,” Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said Thursday. “He was the guy we wanted to bring into this organization and it just came together.”
Seattle landed the right-handed power bat that was a priority this offseason with a lucrative, long-term contract that was finalized Thursday. He gets a $1 million signing bonus payable by Dec. 31 and yearly salaries of $14 million.
Cruz parlayed an $8 million, one-year contract with Baltimore into a long deal with the Mariners after hitting 40 homers and driving in 108 runs for the Orioles. Zduriencik said adding a fourth year to the contract — which will take Cruz to age 38 — was critical to getting the deal done.
“With Nelson, the fact that because he’s such a power guy, and in our game today it’s so difficult to find,” Zduriencik said. “In our league he can be a DH which will preserve him somewhat, he’s in great shape, he’s a really good worker. He may age very well. We had to do that to get him here and we did it.”
He’ll likely hit behind fellow Dominican star Robinson Cano, who will be starting the second season of a $240 million, 10-year contract, and will also reunite with Dominican teammate Fernando Rodney, the Mariners’ closer.
“We’ve been pretty close,” Cruz said of Cano. “He’s also one of the reasons why I’m here. I think he was pulling for me the whole time. I was pulling for this right here, to be part of this.”
The Mariners have among the top pitching staffs in the AL but missed the postseason by one game last season due to offensive shortcomings.
Cruz fits the need, even if he’s never posted big numbers at Safeco Field. Cruz has hit at least 22 homers in every season since 2009 and has been an All-Star three times. Cruz’s .271 batting average and .525 slugging percentage last season with Baltimore was his highest since 2010 with Texas.
Cruz has hit .240 with nine homers and 19 RBIs in 52 games in Seattle — better than his .185 career average in Oakland and .218 in Anaheim.
“I just believe great players make players around them better and I think having Nelson in the middle of our lineup is not only going to give (Cano) a lot more pitches to hit, but whoever is hitting behind him will have an opportunity to drive in runs as well,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. “Obviously, he’s going to make guys better around him in that lineup.”