The Oakland Athletics have discussed signing 33-year-old free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz, writes the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser. Though they have shown "meaningful interest" in Cruz, Slusser notes that nothing appears imminent.
Cruz, a two-time All-Star, has been with the Texas Rangers since 2006, where he has emerged as a slugging right fielder capable of hitting in the middle of the order. Since earning a full-time role in 2009, Cruz has averaged 27 home runs, 81 RBIs, and a .272/.331/.511 (119 OPS+) batting line, including a 27 home runs, 2.0 WAR, .266/.327/.506 line in 109 games last season. In late August, Cruz was suspended 50 games for his connection to the Biogenesis PED scandal.
The Cruz/Oakland connection is a curious one as Cruz is said to be seeking a four-year, $75 million contract, and the largest contract in Athletics' history is the six-year, $66 million deal that the club gave Eric Chavez in 2004. Signing Cruz would also mean forfeiting their first round draft pick next year, which doesn't bode well for a team that consistently puts out one of the lowest payrolls in baseball and is thus necessitated to build through the draft. The Athletics also appear to be well-set in the outfield with Josh Reddick, Coco Crisp, Seth Smith, and Yoenis Cespedes all capable of producing above-average results, and top prospect Michael Choice nearly big league ready.