When former Texas Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz rejected the Rangers' one year qualifying offer of $14.1 million, many figured he would land somewhere with a multi year deal. In 2013 Cruz batted .266 with 27 home runs and 76 RBI. That was with a 50 game suspension he had to serve because of his involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal.
Instead it's Cruz on the outside looking in as spring training gets closer. Cruz has been linked to the Seattle Mariners, New York Mets, and Baltimore Orioles, but still sits at home waiting for a contract offer to roll in. You would figure if Jhonny Peralta can land a 4 year, $53 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals it would be a no brainer that Cruz would land a similar deal, since Peralta also was involved in the same PED scandal. Instead teams see a player who hasn't played in a full 162 game season and has been hit with injuries instead of a bat they can plug into the middle of the lineup.
Cruz would be a fit for most American League teams. At age 33 he isn't finished, but is more on the downside than most would think. He's only hit for more than 30 homers once in his career in a stacked Rangers lineup. He can't run very well and he's a defensive liability. Not someone you want to throw a ton of money at. The guy has DH written all over him. Teams see a player who hasn't played in a full 162 game season and has been hit with injuries instead of a bat they can plug into the middle of the lineup. Being involved with PED's hasn't helped. They wouldn't know what kind of player they would be getting.
Here's another thing about Nelson Cruz: nobody really wants him. It's the middle of January and Cruz remains a free agent, and he's a free agent without a strong market. The best fit, at this point, is probably Baltimore, but Baltimore hasn't done anything. Seattle's the only other fit, and they haven't done anything. The Phillies looked obvious from the get-go, but they instead went with Marlon Byrd. Maybe, in the past, Cruz would've secured a major payday, but teams are smarter now, and one of the first things smart baseball people learn is that players like Cruz are overrated.
Cruz is better off seeking a one year deal and proving himself again instead of looking for a big payday. If Mark Reynolds can lock up an invite to spring training at the very least, Cruz should be able to secure a one year deal.
Cruz has definitely turned out to be the biggest loser during this free agency period.