A few days ago on Sirius XM’s Fantasy Sports Radio, Steve Philips floated the idea out there that while Nelson Cruz would love to turn his major league leading home run season into a huge, multi-year deal, teams will be wary of too many factors to consider a 4-5 year deal. He concluded that Cruz would likely command 2-3 years with no speculation about the money.
Let me speculate about the money.
Cruz made $8 million this year with the Baltimore Orioles. He will once again become a free agent having signed a one year, make good deal. In Camden Yards, Cruz has dominated, scorching 36 home runs and 91 RBI’s. What works against Cruz is the drop off from early in the season. His 28 home runs before the all-star break have been matched by just 9 after the break with 24 games left to play.
So what does that mean for his 2015 paycheck? Given the drop off, I think Cruz could easily command $13-15 million a year, given the lack of free agency depth this off season. A 3 year, $42 million contract seems about right. But what if the Mets were the aggressors? What if they stepped in and gave Cruz 2 years with more money? Is it possible that Cruz would come to the Mets? I think it is.
What exactly is more money you ask? I’d be comfortable giving Cruz 2 years for $32 million. That’s $16 million a year, the same amount that Curtis Granderson will earn in 2015. The 3rd year is really what would kill me as a Met
s fan. Cruz just turned 34 and while he might have plenty of years left in him, the Mets can’t afford to take that risk. They can’t risk signing players into their late ’30s if the payroll is going to remain where it is.
Cruz would provide a huge bat in the middle of the lineup and before you bring up the fact that he’ll be going from hitting in friendly Camden Yards to the pitching haven Citi Field, consider this. Cruz’s average home run distance in 2014 has been 402.66 feet. Lucas Duda‘s is 404.81. That 2 foot gap might seem like a lot until you factor in the range of home runs hit overall. Giancarlo Stanton leads major league baseball (with 20+ home runs) with an average home run distance of 416.08 feet. Chris Carter has just 1 fewer home runs but his travel only 383.06 feet on average. Duda’s average should mean that a fair share of Cruz’s 37 home runs would be out of Citi Field.
Money is going to be tight for the Mets in the coming years, but with huge position prospects like Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo and Dominic Smith on the way, this might be the best route for Sandy Alderson and company. They can sign him for a few years, overpaying him slightly on a per year basis before letting him go as he nears his 37th birthday in favor of the younger options. Cruz is the right target for this team, I just hope the Mets realize it.