Mariners Sign Nelson Cruz To A 4-Year Deal

4 years, $57 million.

That’s what it finally took to make Nelson Cruz a Mariner.  Of course, based on rumors leaked sometime in the past year, the Mariners could have had him much cheaper LAST offseason (based on his 1 year, $8 million deal with the Orioles, it could’ve been pennies on this year’s dollar), but there were concerns of him coming off of a steroids suspension (namely:  would he still have the same pop now that he’s clean?), and so ownership vetoed the deal.

Nelson Cruz was a guy nobody wanted last year, as far as Mariners fans are concerned.  I think that had more to do with his skillset, over concerns about his steroids use.  He’s a poor defensive outfielder and a poor baserunner.  He bats righty and relies mostly on his power, which is the antithesis of what Safeco Field and Seattle, Washington are all about.  The main thing that’s changed between last year and this year is that the Mariners are officially a contender.

Last year, we brought in Cano and a few other, smaller pieces.  We figured we were a better baseball team than in years past, but we had no idea how much better.  By season’s end, we were 1 game out of the playoffs.  If just a few things broke differently, we would have been in there and once you’re in there, who knows what’ll happen?  The Kansas City Royals made it and got to Game 7 of the World Series!

The best part is:  we know exactly what we need to thrive.  We need a big thumper of a bat to put in the lineup between Cano and Seager.  We need our DH position to not be a black hole for the first time since Edgar Martinez retired.  Well, now we’ve got that.

The size of the deal is a bit much, but if the Mariners are willing to spend it, who are we to complain?  It’s not our money, and frankly, I’m just happy they’re FINALLY opening up the ol’ wallet.  I don’t expect we’ll get our full money’s worth, but as long as we can get another good year or two out of him, it might all work out.

The real concern is – as it was last year after the Cano signing – is this it?  Is this the one big move the Mariners are going to make, and then they’ll just cut corners the rest of the way in hopes that Cruz is the final piece to the puzzle and not one of the final pieces (plural).  Or, in other words, does this signing cost us so much money that we could have used to pick up two cheaper, but arguably better pieces?

I suppose you have to take all the moves the Mariners make in context when you make your opinion on something.  Many people will never be on board with Nelson Cruz as a Mariner, no matter the cost or the benefits of having him in our lineup.  I’m willing to get behind this deal.

For starters, you can’t be afraid of every 4-year deal with an aging veteran.  They’re not all Chone Figgins; they’re not all going to immediately fall off the face of the Earth.  I’m going into this deal expecting him to be just about as good as he was last year, with diminishing returns every year after that.  By Year 3, this is probably an ugly deal.  By Year 4, Cruz is probably a catastrophe and getting benched on the reg for some facsimile of Carlos Peguero trying to make it out of Tacoma.  But, I don’t care about those last years; I just care about 2015.

Will Nelson Cruz help the Seattle Mariners win baseball games in 2015?  I think he will.  Therefore, I’m in favor of this signing.

Also, I’m going to be of the opinion that the Mariners aren’t finished building.  We’ve got another outfielder to sign or trade for.  If we can hit on that one, like I’m assuming we’ll have hit on with Cruz (at least for the first year), then this team can be really special.

For the record, if you can manage to keep the short-term outlook paramount in your mind, you won’t drive yourself crazy with this move.  Nelson Cruz WILL help us in 2015, I promise!  After that, and the Mariners win it all, the world will implode upon itself anyway and we won’t HAVE any other years of this deal to worry about, because we’ll all be dead!  There, don’t you feel better now?

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