The Mariners have agreed to a four-year, $58 million deal with free-agent outfielder Nelson Cruz, as first reported by El Caribe in the Dominican Republic. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com notes that the deal is currently pending a physical.
Cruz, who was known to be negotiating to return to the Orioles after an All-Star season in Baltimore, was pursued by the Mariners last offseason but did not sign due to the team reportedly having a policy against signing players who have been linked to performance-enhancing drugs in the past. He went to Baltimore on a one-year, $8 million deal and hit .271/.333/.525 with a league-leading 40 home runs and 108 RBI in 159 games.
Cruz provides the Mariners with the right-handed power bat that they have been looking for over the last few years, likely taking them out of the running for other options like free-agent Torii Hunter or trade candidates Matt Kemp and Yoenis Cespedes. Cruz may be the Mariners' designated hitter for the near future, but he could also play a corner outfield spot for Seattle alongside Austin Jackson, with Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders remaining as candidates as well.
In ten major league seasons with the Brewers (2005), Rangers (2006-2013) and Orioles (2014), Cruz is a three-time All-Star who has hit .268/.328/.501 with 197 home runs and 597 RBI. He will provide an offensive boost alongside Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager in a Mariners' lineup that suddenly looks like it could be one of the best in the American League.