It was announced today that the Texas Rangers signed OF Shin Soo Choo for 7 years and $130 million.
This is a good signing for the Rangers. Choo’s projected value over the next 7 years is about $125 million, so this is a very slight overpay. The Rangers are probably now the favorite to win the division. I wish we signed Choo, but this signing likely means that a big move from the Mariners is coming up soon.
This move will likely end up netting us an outfielder, as the current outfield looks pretty terrible–defensively at least.
The only guarantee for an outfield spot at this point is Franklin Gutierrez in center field. All other spots will be filled by some combination of Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders, Willie Bloomquist, Corey Hart, Logan Morrison, and perhaps Nick Franklin. Only Michael Saunders and Dustin Ackley have proven to be even average outfield defenders. All of the others are slightly below average to downright horrendous defenders (Logan Morrison).
The M’s learned last year that a bad outfield defense is detrimental to the win column. They also learned that a bad outfield offense isn’t very helpful either. But just because you learned that bad outfield defense really is as bad as it sounds, doesn’t mean you will apply that knowledge.
Enter Nelson Cruz, Jack Zduriencik’s dream player: aging, slow, ‘roided up, but can hit a few homers. Nelson Cruz is a strikeout machine (it’s a shame he’s not a pitcher). He can’t draw a walk to save his life, and his batting average hovers around only .260.
His only upside is his slugging percentage, which hovers right about .500 for his career.
In 2013, he put up 1.5 WAR over 109 games. He’s played in over 130 games in a season only once in his career, missing a lot of time due to injuries and suspensions.
However, Cruz would fill up a need in the outfield, and would provide Robinson Cano with some pretty good lineup protection, as Cruz has hit at least 22 homers over the last 5 years despite missing quite a bit of time.
If the M’s were to gain a legitimate middle of the lineup homerun threat to protect Cano, that would be very valuable–more valuable, in fact, than what the M’s would likely pay Cruz.
Cruz has also had a few above-average defensive years, so if he can revert back to those days, he stands a legitimate shot at being a 3.0 WAR player.
However, if Cruz is signed, that would likely mean the end of many different players’ time in Seattle, including Michael Saunders and Nick Franklin.
However, there also is the possibility that the M’s trade for an outfielder, as opposed to signing Cruz. If the M’s can acquire Matt Kemp via trade, I would prefer Kemp and his much higher salary over Cruz.
Anyway, there’s only so much speculation that can be done. I’d prefer to wait and see what the Mariners do over the next couple of days and then analyze that situation. But just be warned: the M’s will probably sign Nelson Cruz over the next couple of days.