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.
According to CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman, the Mariners, Mets, Rangers, and Phillies are among the clubs that have shown interest in Cruz.