Nelson Cruz (Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports)
Of course, the easy answer, is yes. We know the Astros still have some holes in their outfield, even with George Springer on the horizon, and Nelson Cruz would help in filling those holes. Cruz would also provide a proven, veteran, run producing threat in the middle of the order.
Last season, Cruz hit .266 in 109 games with 27 home runs and 76 RBI’s. That is pretty good production for someone who was also suspended for 50 games due to PED use. Missing time for Cruz is nothing new as the outfielder has a history of being injury prone throughout his career. But even regardless of that, Cruz is good for an average of 27 home runs and about 80 RBI’s a season. That would put him atop the Astros leader board and give their lineup a much needed boost.
So, everything sounds good thus far. Yes there are some health concerns here, and the suspension also has to be on your radar, but everything points to Cruz’s 2014 performance not being too far off from the past six seasons. However, there is the concern that Cruz’s best years are behind him and you have to wonder how much of his production and health was propped up by PED usage. Personally, this is not a major concern for me, but it is something to think about.
But while I am not too worried about Cruz for 2014, it is natural to have some reservations. And that is why his rumored contract demands of four years and $75 million are just outlandish. If you are wondering why Cruz is still unsigned, look no further than those terms.
As we get closer to Spring Training, Cruz is running out of time. The 33-year old still has a lot to offer a team, and likely has a few years left. But if he doesn’t get the contract he is seeking, which is beginning to look more and more likely, then he will be forced to settle for a one or two year deal. That will allow him to reestablish his value for the big money contract that he is seeking.
If it comes to that, then Cruz is an option the Astros should consider. It would also allow them to give Springer a little more seasoning in the minor leagues.