In late 2013 the Biogenesis Scandal shook the baseball world. Players such as Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, and Johnny Peralta all were connected and suspended. Another player involved with a unique case heading into the 2014 season was the Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz. His case was unique along with Johnny Peralta’s due to the fact that both were set to become free agents at years end. Most expected the scandal to put a damper on the amount of money each would be making in free agency and this was the case for one of the two.
Shortly after free agency for the MLB Peralta signed a large contract worth 53 million dollars over 4 years with the reigning National League champs the St. Louis Cardinals. Now the question was of Cruz’s landing spot. Originally Cruz was looking for a deal in the 4 year 60 million dollar range. It soon became evident that this was not going to be the case. Time passed and still no one was biting on signing Cruz. Finally the Baltimore Orioles stepped up and got the steal of free agent period. Cruz agreed to a deal with Baltimore worth 8 million dollars over just one year.
Enter the 2014 season. Nelson Cruz has been one of the most dominant hitters in baseball thus far. We are now just passed the one quarter point in the 2014 season and already Cruz is on track for a record year. So far Nelly has a .285 batting average, and 14 homeruns. Now if you take his All-Star teammates Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Manny Machado, and JJ Hardy and combine all of their homeruns it adds up to 13. Along with this his 14 homeruns is second only to the White Sox rookie slugger Jose Abreu. Cruz has provided a spark in this offense for almost no cost to Baltimore when you look at the size of MLB contracts.
If Cruz keeps up with his progress thus far it is projected that he will hit 50 homeruns and have 150 RBI’s (per espn.com). With the competitiveness of the American League East, especially thus far this year the O’s signing of Cruz could prove extremely crucial to their success in the long run this season. Without a doubt Nelson Cruz was the MLB’s free agent bargain of the offseason.