The A’s typically are not associated with the major leagues’ big spenders, but they continue to be linked to a high-priced outfielder on the open market.
Oakland is considered one of the teams in the hunt for free agent Nelson Cruz, who reportedly is seeking a four-year contract in the neighborhood of $75 million, a whopping figure compared to the salary range he was generally pegged for.
The A’s were first linked to Cruz during the general managers’ meetings two weeks ago, and a published report Wednesday said they maintain “meaningful interest” in the 33-year-old Cruz, who hit .266 with 27 home runs and 76 RBI for the Texas Rangers last season.
A right-handed hitting outfielder is on the A’s wish list this winter, but how much are they willing to break the bank to land one?
It’s not unprecedented for the normally cost-conscious team to throw big bucks at free agents they covet. Before the 2011 season, the A’s made a five-year $64 million offer for third baseman Adrian Beltre before he signed with Texas. But the annual salary of Cruz’s reported asking price would be significantly steeper than that offer to Beltre.
The Rangers are interested in re-signing Cruz, and the Seattle Mariners and New York Mets are also after him, according to cbssports.com’s Jon Heyman.
Cruz has 157 homers with a .268 batting average over a nine-year career spent mostly with Texas. He’s hit 22 or more homers in each of the past five seasons with a career high of 33 in 2009. In a time when power is viewed as a dwindling commodity, Cruz is one of the top power hitters on the market.
He was suspended for 50 games last season for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. But as Jhonny Peralta’s four-year $53 million contract with St. Louis shows, teams aren’t shying away from players with links to performance-enhancing drugs. Cruz is generally thought to be a good clubhouse guy, and Rangers manager Ron Washington said he’d like to have Cruz back in 2014.
The A’s interest in Cruz is intriguing for the domino effect it might create in the outfield. Unless Oakland was to use Cruz as a full-time DH, they would have to clear a corner outfield spot for him. CSN California reported last week that the A’s would consider trading left fielder Yoenis Cespedes, right fielder Josh Reddick or other position players if it meant improving the club for 2014.
But first, the A’s would have to win the sweepstakes for Cruz.
While that plays out, they are also working to add a veteran starter to their rotation. They remain interested in re-signing free agent Bartolo Colon, but the Los Angeles Angels reportedly are targeting him as well.