Orioles sign Nelson Cruz for one year
A person familiar with the agreement told the Associated Press on Saturday that Cruz will earn about $8.5 million and can make more in performance bonuses.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the contract wasn’t complete. Other media outlets had reported that a deal was in place.
The 33-year-old Cruz was suspended 50 games last year while with the Texas Rangers as a result of Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Biogenesis drug scandal. He returned from the penalty in time to play one game - he went 0 for 4 in the Rangers’ loss to Tampa Bay in a tiebreaker for the second AL wild-card spot.
Baltimore began full-squad workouts at spring training earlier this week, and Cruz was among the last prominent free agents to find a team.
Manager Buck Showalter’s team opened camp still in need of a designated hitter, preferably someone to join major-league home run champion Chris Davis in the lineup. Cruz may well find the cozy dimensions at Camden Yards to his liking - he is a career .333 hitter with two homers and nine RBI in 81 at-bats at the ballpark.
Baltimore signed Delmon Young to a minor-league contract in the offseason and also was looking at free agent Kendrys Morales.
Cruz, a two-time All-Star in the outfield, is expected to become Baltimore’s designated hitter. If so, he could be the Orioles’ 12th opening day designated hitter in 12 years.
Cruz hit .266 with 27 homers and 76 RBI in 109 games last year. He’s averaged 27 homers in the last five seasons.