Nelson Cruz Signs with the Baltimore Orioles


Nelson Cruz (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

Jason Castro needs protection. Currently, that is projected to be in the form of slugger Chris Carter. Carter is a power hitter (29 home runs and 82 RBI’s), but he also has trouble making contact.

Last season Carter struck out 212 times and hit only .223 so he would be better served hitting lower in the order than fourth. This will likely change once George Springer and Jonathan Singleton make their way to Houston, but they likely will not be ready for the middle of the order right away.

That is why someone like Nelson Cruz would have been an ideal addition to the Astros’ lineup for 2014. Now Cruz certainly was not the best option as the 33-year old outfielder likely would not figure into Houston’s long term plans. And at the start of the off-season, the market for Cruz seemed like it was going to be between $60 and $75 million. This is after he rejected a qualifying offer from the Texas Rangers for $14.1 million. At the very least it seemed that there was no way Cruz would sign for less than that amount.

But with the news today that the Baltimore Orioles signed Cruz for one year and only $8 million, you have to think that this was a move the Astros should have made. Granted the Orioles are closer to contending than the Astros are, so that could have played a factor in the outfielder’s decision.

Signing Cruz would also have cost the Astros their compensatory draft choice, so that could have played a factor in Jeff Luhnow’s decision not to sign him. But at this point, Houston needs to concentrate on improving the product on the field. Cruz would not have impacted the budget or hindered the development of Houston’s stable of prospects. In fact having a veteran presence in the lineup would have likely helped.