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Saturday, February 22, 2014

DJ Short: Report: Orioles closing in on a deal with Nelson Cruz

No word yet on the terms involved and Heyman writes that a couple of issues still need to be resolved, but a deal is seen as “extremely likely.” The Orioles would surrender their second-round pick (and the corresponding draft pool money) in order to sign Cruz, as they already gave up their first-rounder for Jimenez. It’s unclear whether signing Cruz officially takes the Orioles out of the mix for Ervin Santana, but it’s safe to say that they fully intend to contend this season.

The Orioles are unsettled in the DH spot, so given Cruz’s poor reputation on defense, he should be a good fit there. It could also help keep him healthy, which has been an issue for him in previous since and should be a consideration as he moves toward his mid-30s.

JE (Jason) Posted: February 22, 2014 at 10:19 AM | 46 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: designated hitters, jon heyman, orioles

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   1. Select Storage Device Posted: February 22, 2014 at 01:28 PM (#4660734)
Draft picks, I cast thee OUT!
   2. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: February 22, 2014 at 01:51 PM (#4660741)
One year eight million. http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/10500852/baltimore-orioles-nelson-cruz-agree-contract

He should have taken the qualifying offer.
   3. Jim Wisinski Posted: February 22, 2014 at 02:09 PM (#4660746)
Seems pretty good for the Orioles. Cruz is very unspecial but he gives them what should be at least a 110 OPS+ bat for the DH spot at a minimal commitment.
   4. akrasian Posted: February 22, 2014 at 02:21 PM (#4660747)
I wonder if there's a clause to not allow a qualifying offer? That way next offseason he can actually see if anyone wants him long term.
   5. Nasty Nate Posted: February 22, 2014 at 02:25 PM (#4660748)
Very Duquettish move - and I mean that as a compliment. Park him at DH at let him hit.
   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 22, 2014 at 02:25 PM (#4660749)

I wonder if there's a clause to not allow a qualifying offer?


Those aren't allowed. I know teams used to have handshake agreements, but I think even those are frowned upon now.
   7. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: February 22, 2014 at 02:31 PM (#4660750)
I wonder if there's a clause to not allow a qualifying offer? That way next offseason he can actually see if anyone wants him long term.


If the Orioles give him a qualifying offer this offseason, he's taking it, unless he has a HUGE season, in which case it won't hurt him much.
   8. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 22, 2014 at 02:33 PM (#4660751)
dude has 14 postseason HRs in only 3 years of postseason play (slash line of 278/336/683)
   9. jdennis Posted: February 22, 2014 at 02:35 PM (#4660752)
The Orioles like to swoop in and feed on the carrion left by the others.
   10. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: February 22, 2014 at 02:37 PM (#4660753)
Is the Orioles over/under still just 80.5 wins?

If so, I'm jumping all over the over on that one. They should absolutely be competing for at least a wild card this season.
   11. DL from MN Posted: February 22, 2014 at 02:38 PM (#4660755)
One year $8M is cheap. The Orioles might as well sign Morales and Ervin Santana while they're at it.
   12. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: February 22, 2014 at 02:48 PM (#4660757)
If you're going to lose picks, might as well cluster those signings into one year. Good deal.
   13. BDC Posted: February 22, 2014 at 02:50 PM (#4660758)
I am glad to hear this, because there were mild rumors that the Rangers might be closing in a deal with Cruz. I love the guy as much as any other Texas fan, but his useful seasons are mostly over, and far better he leave a year too soon than four years too late.

He leaves behind in Texas probably the single best postseason memory and the single worst, both in 2011. I'd expect him to be in the Rangers Hall of Fame sooner or later.
   14. escabeche Posted: February 22, 2014 at 03:06 PM (#4660762)
I get what people like about this deal, but I can't help feeling like this represents a return to the Marty Cordova era, where Baltimore constantly "saves money" by adding two mediocre free agents for the price of a star. They never did build any good teams this way.
   15. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 22, 2014 at 03:11 PM (#4660763)

I get what people like about this deal, but I can't help feeling like this represents a return to the Marty Cordova era, where Baltimore constantly "saves money" by adding two mediocre free agents for the price of a star. They never did build any good teams this way.


Their core in those days was Jay Gibbons, Tony Batista, and Melvin Mora with Rodrigo Lopez and Sidney Ponson anchoring the staff. I think their core is a bit better thes days with a better staff.
   16. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: February 22, 2014 at 03:20 PM (#4660765)
If you're going to lose picks, might as well cluster those signings into one year. Good deal.

How much evidence is there that the draft pick compensation has any affect on teams willingness to sign free agents? I mean, I know it took Cruz a while to sign, and Drew isn't signed, but that kind of thing happens every year.
   17. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: February 22, 2014 at 03:25 PM (#4660767)

How much evidence is there that the draft pick compensation has any affect on teams willingness to sign free agents? I mean, I know it took Cruz a while to sign, and Drew isn't signed, but that kind of thing happens every year.
No idea. But I'd rather sign a few the same year, rather than do one each year and consistenly lose pick.
   18. JE (Jason) Posted: February 22, 2014 at 03:28 PM (#4660768)
He should have taken the qualifying offer.

Meh. It was a risk worth taking. Sure, the $6.1 million difference between the qualifying offer and this contract is substantial but one year is still one year and he joins a team that now has a legitimiate shot at the postseason.

His salary demand in the multi-year contract was the mistake.
   19. Nasty Nate Posted: February 22, 2014 at 03:34 PM (#4660770)
How much evidence is there that the draft pick compensation has any affect on teams willingness to sign free agents?


For it not to have an effect on teams' offers would mean that those teams value the picks at zero dollars.
   20. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: February 22, 2014 at 03:47 PM (#4660771)
I'm not holding my breath on this signing until after Cruz has his physical.
   21. escabeche Posted: February 22, 2014 at 04:06 PM (#4660778)
Rodrigo Lopez and Sidney Ponson anchoring the staff

To be fair, Lopez was sort of the Miguel Gonzalez of that Orioles era -- picked up off the scrap heap when nobody else wanted him and was somehow pretty effective despite not having a lot of stuff. As for Sir Sidney, he was a 23-year-old who'd had two 200-inning seasons in a row of league-average pitching; in 2001, I think it wouldn't be crazy to have seen him in roughly the same light we see Chris Tillman now.

None of which is to dispute that Nelson Cruz is joining a better team than Cordova did.

   22. Chris Fluit Posted: February 22, 2014 at 04:19 PM (#4660781)
I like this deal for the Orioles. I would have preferred Morales as he's the better hitter, but it's only a one-year commitment and they clearly needed another hefty bat at DH.
   23. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: February 22, 2014 at 04:22 PM (#4660783)
As for Sir Sidney, he was a 23-year-old who'd had two 200-inning seasons in a row of league-average pitching; in 2001,

Yeah, I managed to talk myself into Sir Sid quite a few years in a row.
   24. Chris Fluit Posted: February 22, 2014 at 04:28 PM (#4660785)
I get what people like about this deal, but I can't help feeling like this represents a return to the Marty Cordova era, where Baltimore constantly "saves money" by adding two mediocre free agents for the price of a star. They never did build any good teams this way.


I don't see it that way. In those days, the Orioles spent money poorly. They would target a top free agent like Ivan Rodriguez and then sign whoever else was available once they were outbid. So they got stuck with a lot of aging former stars like Javier Lopez. This time around, they patiently waited until the market came to them. They didn't get stuck out on a limb with a big contract like Seattle with Robinson Cano. The Cruz contract is a one-year deal. Even if it doesn't work out, there's minimal risk and no longterm consequences. As to their other signing- Jimenez was the pitcher I was hoping they would sign from the beginning. He has the most upside, but he came at a reasonable price because of his inconsistency. I'd rather sign him than another innings-eater like Garza or Santana. Plus, as others have noted, they're filling in holes around a solid core and doing it all in one year to minimize the effect on draft picks.
   25. escabeche Posted: February 22, 2014 at 04:34 PM (#4660786)
Yeah, I managed to talk myself into Sir Sid quite a few years in a row.


You and the Giants, who traded Kurt Ainsworth, the Brian Matusz of 2004, for a half-season of Ponson.
   26. Chris Fluit Posted: February 22, 2014 at 04:35 PM (#4660787)
How much evidence is there that the draft pick compensation has any affect on teams willingness to sign free agents? I mean, I know it took Cruz a while to sign, and Drew isn't signed, but that kind of thing happens every year.


I think it's pretty clear that compensatory picks affect the market. Pitchers who didn't have qualifying offers signed more quickly than those that turned them down. Notice that Garza and Kazmir signed before Jimenez and E. Santana. The compensatory picks narrow the field of suitors to teams that don't care about the picks because of their playoff aspirations or those who finished in the bottom ten and have their picks protected. Of the former, not all playoff-bound teams are willing to part with picks. Of the latter, most free agents don't want to sign with a last-place team and last-place teams aren't always interested in mid-level free agents.
   27. Esoteric Posted: February 22, 2014 at 04:52 PM (#4660794)
I AM SO GLAD THIS ISN'T THE MARINERS AND MULTIPLE YEARS.

That is all.
   28. Walt Davis Posted: February 22, 2014 at 05:43 PM (#4660814)
1/$8 is a good deal but then ... giving up a draft pick for a 1-year contract? I'm not sure that's a good idea.

On compensation ... the group to study are middle relievers. Because of the old screwy Elias rankings, middle relievers were often Type A FAs. They did usually manage to sign somewhere but usually for not much money. Now these guys are never offered QO and they've been signing contracts at $5 M a year. I'm still not sure that's not just inflation at work but my impression is that they've seen a big jump.

BDC, not wanting Cruz back is understandable but ... would you not want him back at this price?

I'm surprised that he went this low. True, it does happen to a few FA every year. He's a very limited player, I didn't expect him to go very high but would have thought something closer to 1/$12 or 2/$20 and wasn't ruling out 3/$36. And if the O's are out of it, they can probably flip Cruz for the equivalent of a 2nd round pick.
   29. sinicalypse Posted: February 22, 2014 at 05:58 PM (#4660818)
ok forgive my ignorance here, but even though i'm pretty sure nelson cruz wasn't drafted, because he's gone out and established himself as a quality offensive player of a certain level/threshold now that he's going FA (with the qualifying offer out there as a technicality) he'll cost the team that signs him that first round pick this/next year?

for some reason i thought the loss of a draft pick to get a FA was tied into the presence of a qualifying offer ("hey at least we tried!") and was there to make up for the draft pick that the team used on them in the first place, with the actual quality of the draft pick tied to the production levels of the player? pretty stupid on my part there, so i'm to assume that basically as long as a team has a player of some level of performance and/or beyond who rejects their qualifying offer, then that team is eligible to get one of those sandwich round draft picks between the first and second round?

i mean it doesnt end up like, say, the cubs sign a free agent from a team with the #3 pick so they get the #3 pick, right?

and a veritable </ignorance> there my apologies, just wanna be crystal clear on this. and uhhhhh good luck to the fighting bucks! they're gonna need it and thensome in the al east (especially when i wouldnt trust chris davis to go .290/53/138 again and adam jones is always so free swinging he's one of those guys who could relatively-plummet to a .240/22/75 season and it wouldn't be some OMFG situation)
   30. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: February 22, 2014 at 07:15 PM (#4660838)
Ken Rosenthal shall not be constrained by 140 characters:

@Ken_Rosenthal: Sources: Orioles still interested in Santana even after signing Jimenez, Cruz. Next pick they would lose would be No. 91 overall. One source adds: Santana would rather sit out until after June draft than accept deal similar to Cruz’s. Comp pick disappears after draft.


And now you know...the rest of the story.
   31. BDC Posted: February 22, 2014 at 07:46 PM (#4660849)
BDC, not wanting Cruz back is understandable but ... would you not want him back at this price?

Well, that's a point. Cruz at 1/8 as opposed to 1/2.65 for Mitch Moreland at DH … heck, as opposed to Moreland at the minimum. But OTOH the Rangers have Michael Choice for near-minumum, and I think Choice, given a chance, could have a better season than Cruz.
   32. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: February 22, 2014 at 08:49 PM (#4660866)
for some reason i thought the loss of a draft pick to get a FA was tied into the presence of a qualifying offer ("hey at least we tried!") and was there to make up for the draft pick that the team used on them in the first place, with the actual quality of the draft pick tied to the production levels of the player? pretty stupid on my part there, so i'm to assume that basically as long as a team has a player of some level of performance and/or beyond who rejects their qualifying offer, then that team is eligible to get one of those sandwich round draft picks between the first and second round?

i mean it doesnt end up like, say, the cubs sign a free agent from a team with the #3 pick so they get the #3 pick, right?

Basically. If a team offers a qo, and is turned down they get a sandwich pick. The signing team loses it's first rounder, or their next available pick, if they have already surrender that pick, or have a protected pick in the first round (top 10).
   33. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 22, 2014 at 09:00 PM (#4660868)
Because of the old screwy Elias rankings, middle relievers were often Type A FAs. They did usually manage to sign somewhere but usually for not much money.

And speaking of "Cruz", probably the most skewed example of that was Juan Cruz five years ago.

Although he finally got a contract from the Royals 2 weeks into spring training. Two years and $5.5 million! And was bad in the first year and injured in the second year.
   34. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: February 22, 2014 at 09:10 PM (#4660872)
i thought the loss of a draft pick to get a FA was tied into the presence of a qualifying offer


This is true.

and was there to make up for the draft pick that the team used on them in the first place


This is not, except in some sort of abstract theory, and even then probably not.

The reality is that any player who has played 3 years in the majors (in some cases 2-plus) and is not signed to a pre-existing contract is eligible for arbitration, though they're bound to arbitration for another three years after that (broadly speaking).

It used to be that a statistical determination by the Elias Sports bureau would determine whether or not a player was good enough to be the type of free agent for which a team would pay compensation. This is no longer the case.

Now, a team can receive compensation under the condition that they offer the player an arbitration bid equal to the average of the 125 richest contracts in MLB. (For reference, there are 1200 players on 40-man rosters at any given time, though a large measure of those are not yet eligible for free agency. I am too lazy to figure out exactly what this is, but my guess would be well more than half.)

The reason for this is not exactly to compensate a team for a draft pick lost to free agency: that draft pick wasn't lost at all. A player who rejects arbitration and leaves via free agency has already provided his team with value for his services. I don't think anybody believes that a team is really "owed" the value of a player above and beyond the six MLB years most guys will usually spend with a team before being eligible for free agency.

The compensation system is in place for a lot of reasons, not least of which is so that a rich team can't just tank a season on purpose, get a great pick, and then sign every player on the market and return to relevancy with the next Bryce Harper in its back pocket. It's also there so that poor teams who cannot (or will not, as it sometimes sorts out) afford to keep homegrown stars will not spend forever in irrelevancy, at least assuming a certain amount of draft competency from a front office. (In reality, sometimes a terrible symbiosis takes hold by which a Pittsburgh or a Kansas City will employ a bad front office for a long time, thereby getting little out of the compensation system either coming or going. But at some point, that has to be on them.)

It has almost nothing to do with compensation for the pick originally used on the player. Maybe nothing at all, except in the cosmic sense.
   35. donlock Posted: February 22, 2014 at 10:11 PM (#4660887)
This signing is eerily reminiscent of when the Orioles signed Vladimir Guerrero from the Rangers in February of 2011. They paid him about $8million then and there didn't seem to be any competition to make them pay him that much.He wasn't much help and they let him go after one year.He appeared to have lost his power stroke. Hope a clean Cruz doesn't suffer the same fate.

BTW damn that cheapskate Peter Angelos for not signing any free agents and then at the last minute getting two of them for a good price. If he weren't out to ruin the Orioles, he could have signed Cruz earlier for 4/$56mil and Ubaldo for 4/$60. The man is just evil.
   36. DKDC Posted: February 22, 2014 at 10:21 PM (#4660891)
I like this signing at this price, but like #35, the Vlad parallel did jump to mind.

Cruz is a few years younger, but he's a much lesser player and has the PED risk factor as well.

But the truth is, even if Cruz can only deliver what Vlad did in his one year with the Os, that's probably an upgrade over what they have in house.
   37. Select Storage Device Posted: February 23, 2014 at 02:34 AM (#4660931)
I think it's a pretty interesting idea to max on pick-stealing late signings. No reason the O's shouldn't see what Santana is willing to do for a one year deal. It's really shocking that a player like Stephen Drew or Kendrys Morales would be willing to wait until well past the season starts to play organizational baseball.

How likely is it anyway that the Orioles' 2014 2nd rd pick = anything near 8m career value? Low enough.

When Chris Capuano gets a Major League deal in late February...
   38. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 23, 2014 at 12:38 PM (#4661014)
How much evidence is there that the draft pick compensation has any affect on teams willingness to sign free agents? I mean, I know it took Cruz a while to sign, and Drew isn't signed, but that kind of thing happens every year.


Well, every year there has been draft pick compensation, so that variable hasn't changed any.
   39. Walt Davis Posted: February 23, 2014 at 05:45 PM (#4661131)
But possibly the changes in the compensation system -- especially the reduction in the number of FAs that will lose you a draft pick -- has had an unintended effect. Its main purpose was to make life easier for the mid-tier FA (i.e. they won't receive a QO) and I think the changes have achieved that. But in the old system you really had no choice but give up a draft pick if you wanted a decent player. Because of the screwy Elias rankings, that decent player could well have been a Type B better than a Type A but you still gave up something.

Now you can sign decent players without giving up a draft pick, thereby making the relative costs of signing a QO FA even higher. In the old days, when debating between signing SP#1 or the slightly worse SP#2, it was a decision on talent and money but the pick didn't enter into it so much cuz you were losing one anyway. Now it's pretty clear you go for SP#2 if he wasn't QO'd.

#29 ...yeah, you're jumbling up all sorts of stuff. #34 explains the important stuff. You might also be confusing this with the new rule that if a team is unable to sign their draft pick from year X, they get a pick in (roughly) the same spot in year X+1. But that's not about FAs.

And the old Type A, Type B, etc. was about tying the level of compensation to the supposed quality of the departing FA but, with the QO, that's now just yes/no. And the QO is the same for any player and $13 M so presumably it's only offered to "good" players.

Was Ed Wade really giving away top draft picks every year during his middle reliever fetish years?
   40. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: February 23, 2014 at 07:05 PM (#4661152)
Was Ed Wade really giving away top draft picks every year during his middle reliever fetish years?


Well, Wade was GM of the Phillies from 1998 to 2005, so any loss of picks would show up in the 1998-2005 drafts. They did not lose any picks in 2004, 2002, 1999, or 1998.

In 2000, their second rounder went to Cleveland, for God knows who. I can't find anyone who was on the Indians in 1999 and the Phillies in 2000. I must be missing someone, but if so, it's not someone who should merit compensation.

Anyway, in 2001, the Phillies lost their 2nd and 3rd, presumably for signing Jose Mesa and Rheal Cormier, so there's 2.

In 2003 they lost their 1st and 2nd, for Jim Thome, and David Bell.

In 2005, they lost their #1, probably for Jon Lieber. Not sure when Wade was fired and if he had anything to to with that signing.

So, 2, possibly 3 ( I have no idea why their #2 in 2000 went to Cleveland) picks lost to relievers. Those 2 picks would up being Kelly Shoppach and a guy who never made it out of rookie ball.
   41. Sweatpants Posted: February 23, 2014 at 07:25 PM (#4661159)
In 2000, their second rounder went to Cleveland, for God knows who. I can't find anyone who was on the Indians in 1999 and the Phillies in 2000. I must be missing someone, but if so, it's not someone who should merit compensation.
This was probably for Mike Jackson. He ended up missing all of 2000 with an injury.
   42. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: February 23, 2014 at 08:56 PM (#4661181)
How likely is it anyway that the Orioles' 2014 2nd rd pick = anything near 8m career value? Low enough.

How likely is it that Cruz puts up 8m worth of value next season?

Your question is a false comparison, since you have the pick on the wrong side of the comparison. The question should be is the pick worth more than the difference between Cruz '14 value and 8m. Now I guess it is possible that the pick has negative value...
   43. Walt Davis Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:34 AM (#4661298)
I'm not quite sure which pick this is but let's call it #60. (39 in the "first" round last year, they give up their 2nd rounder so ...)

From 1999-2008, there were 3 pretty solid #60s -- Ludwick (11 WAR), Broxton (8) and Travis Wood (7). All three still active and Wood especially could return a lot of value in his pre-FA years. Still, the total WAR from those 10 picks to date is just those 3 and -1.3 for Freddie Bynum so about 2.5 WAR per pick.

At 61 you get Jesse Crain (12) and really nobody else. At 62 it's Ethier (19) and nobody else although Brad Miller (2) from 2011 is already in the majors. 58 gives us Scott Baker (16 WAR) and nobody else; 59 gives us Doumit (10 WAR) and nobody else although recent years have produced Arenado and Gyorko.

I suppose we could apply NPV to this -- i.e. 1 WAR now is worth X WAR 5-10 years from now -- but I'm guessing there's about a 15% chance giving up this pick for somebody like Cruz is a disastrous idea and an 85% chance you're a little better off with Cruz. At $8 M, he only needs to produce 1.5 WAR or less which ... well, ZiPS only puts him at 1.6 WAR and doesn't really kill him for defense so maybe he's not such a good chance to be worth more than $8.
   44. McCoy Posted: February 24, 2014 at 02:09 AM (#4661306)
The history of baseball FA is kind of fascinating and it is MLB's attempts to thwart it even when they had to swallow the pill that makes it so fascinating. Originally baseball tried to limit the amount of buyers for any one player and tried to limit how many FA a team could sign in a year. Afterwards they moved on to draft picks as an attempt to keep people from going after FA but it took baseball quite a while to realize how valuable their draft picks were so it didn't really work as a dampener.
   45. DKDC Posted: February 24, 2014 at 08:52 AM (#4661335)
but I'm guessing there's about a 15% chance giving up this pick for somebody like Cruz is a disastrous idea and an 85% chance you're a little better off with Cruz


I think "disastrous" is vastly overstating it.

Of course, we'll never know who they would've picked, so the only way to value this is to look at the pick as a lottery ticket that has some discrete value - its probably worth a few million bucks.

So the downside is paying away $10-12 million for a player who doesn't perform.

It is a bigger deal to give up a pick in the days of the bonus pool, because it's not like the Orioles can just target guys in the third round who have fallen for high bonus demands. They are going to have a very small pool to work with.
   46. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: February 24, 2014 at 10:42 AM (#4661375)
The Vlad comparison is pretty funny, although I still don't think the Vlad signing was a bad idea. He was pretty good for the Rangers the year before and only 35 or 36. And there was really no risk to a one year, $8M deal (as with Cruz).

Giving up the draft pick stinks, but c'est la vie.

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