Felix Hernandez

Signed: Cruz Joins Cano in Seattle

NCruz

Had Nelson Cruz not been busted in the Biogenesis scandal in 2013 he likely would have landed a five year deal last year with at least a value of $90MM – $100MM. Instead he signed with the Baltimore Orioles for one year and bashed an AL leading 40 home runs and drove in 108 runs.

It was those numbers that landed Cruz a four-year, $57MM deal with the Seattle Mariners Monday morning. It’s still shy a year and some millions of what he could have made, but after last season’s compromise (Cruz earned $8MM), the new deal looks pretty golden.

The Mariners made a committment last season towards a brighter tomorrow when they held firm to their policy of holding on to ace Felix Hernandez and then signed free agent second baseman Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240MM deal. The team also inked closer Fernando Rodney last offseason and recently signed slugging third baseman Kyle Seager to a seven year extension. They also dealt for centerfielder Austin Jackson at the 2014 trade deadline.

Cruz is likely to spend most of his time at DH, though he should see upwards of 50 games in left and/or right field spelling Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders. The 34-year old, who has been subject to hamstring injuries throughout his career, matched his career high for games played last season with 159. His home run and RBI totals were both career highs (it was the first time he knocked in 100 runs) and helped earn Cruz his third All-Star appearance and a 7th place finish in the AL MVP voting.

His season was made more interesting by the fact that Cruz only put up .783 OPS at his home ball park, the hitter friendly Camden Yards. His bat also went to sleep from June through part of August.

The New York Mets originally signed the Dominican native to a contract in 1998. He was dealt to the Oakland A’s in 2000 and then moved on to Milwaukee in 2004. The deal that kickstarted his career though came in 2006 when he and Carlos Lee were sent to the Texas Rangers for reliever Francisco Cordero and outfielders Kevin Mench and Laynce Nix.

Cruz had his break out season in 2009 when he slugged 33 home runs. He’s averaged 29 home runs in his last six seasons. He had 27 HR and 76 RBI when he was suspended 50 games for his involvement with Biogenesis, the performance enhancing drug (PED) “store” that mascaraded as a health clinic.

With Cruz’s departure, the Orioles may ramp up their talks with the LA Dodgers about outfielder Matt Kemp.

Extended: Mariners Re-Up Seager For 7 Years

Seager

Kyle Seager has 100 million reasons to smile.

 

The Seattle Mariners made a big committment to turning things around last offseason when they gave free agent second baeman Robinson Cano to a 10 year, $240MM contract. The Mariners continued to build for the here and now, and the future, when they agreed – as reported by Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan – today to a seven year, $100MM contract extension with third baseman Kyle Seager.

The 27-year old is coming off his best season in the Major Leagues, one that saw him earn his first All-Star nod and captured his first Gold Glove Award as well. Seager finished 20th in the AL MVP vote after he compiled a .268/.334/.454 slash line with career highs in home runs (25) and RBI (96).  The North Carolina native has averaged 22 home runs and 84 RBI in his first three full seasons in the Major Leagues.

Seager would not have been eligible for free agency until the 2018 season and wasn’t arbitration eligible until 2015.

2015 Mariners at a glance

Starting Rotation – Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma (possible on the trading block), James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, Roenis Elias

Infield – 1B – Logan Morrison 2B – Cano SS – Brad Miller/Chris Taylor 3B – Seager

Outfield – Dustin Ackley, Austin Jackson, Michael Saunders

Catcher – Mike Zunino

Bullpen – Closer – Fernando Rodney,

Jeter’s Last All-Star Hurrah

Jeter14ASNow batting (for the last time) for the American League, number 2, Derek Jeter. Number 2.

by Drew Sarver

It seems like it was only yesterday that Derek Jeter was in his rookie season with the New York Yankees. I was younger then, than he is now. It’s odd enough to not see Mariano Rivera in a Yankees uniform this season, but to not see Jeter in the home pinstripes or the road greys next season is incomprehensible. Life moves fast and so has Jeter’s final season as a Major League baseball player. Tuesday night, he’ll be introduced as the starting shortstop for the American League in the 85th MLB All-Star game at Target Field in Minnesota.

The fans voted in Jeter as the starter this season, as a tribute rather than because of his play this season. They recognize the special player they have witnessed on a nightly basis for nearly 20 seasons. (The anti-Yankees/anti-Jeter sentiment among some fans, specifically those criticizing his place on the team, is more about those fans and their lack of perception of the baseball world outside of their own team.)

Jeter made his first All-Star appearance in 1998, his third full season in the Major Leagues. In an interview with former teammate, and current ESPN analyst Aaron Boone, Jeter admitted to being “scared to death” in his first mid-Summer classic. It’s hard to believe, coming from a player with the confidence that Jeter has, but newbies are newbies. Things have changed since then. (See the entire ESPN interview by clicking here.)

Jeter enjoys chatting with players he doesn’t get to talk with too often. Even those (Dee Gordon) that are the son of a former teammate (Tom “Flash” Gordon). The Yankees’ captain would certainly like to leave a lasting impression for the fans, in attendance and those at home, during Tuesday night’s game. Of course, he would never admit to that.

In that first All-Star game 16 years ago, Jeter subbed for the starter, Seattle’s Alex Rodriguez, and struck out in his lone at-bat. A year later, Nomar Garciaparra got the start and Jeter’s one at-bat again resulted in a strikeout. (A-Rod was left off the team by Yankees manager Joe Torre after a knee injury limited him to a .316 batting average, 1.045 OPS, 18 HR and 48 RBI.)

Jeter was voted in as the starter for the first time in the 2000 season. It was one of the top all-around seasons for the then 26-year old. He was the game’s MVP in the American League’s 6-3 victory, going 3-3 with two RBI,  and a run scored. He then went on to capture the World Series MVP when the Yankees topped the Mets in the Subway Series that Fall.

The next two seasons Jeter again found himself on the bench as Cal Ripken Jr. had his swan song at shortstop (Ripken was actually voted as the starter at third base, but Torre and A-Rod, the winner at shortstop, orchestrated a positional switch at the start of the game.) and a year later A-Rod once again topped the vote leaderboard among the league’s shortstops.

Jeter1998ASJeter’s 1998 All-Star debut in Colorado.

Number 2 in pinstripes missed the ’03 game after he missed a month and a half of the regular season with a shoulder injury. But with A-Rod’s move to the Yankees and third base, and Garciaparra’s declined play, beginnnig in 2004 Jeter was voted in as the starting shortstop for the next six seasons. He lost out to the Cleveland Indians’ Asdrubel Cabrera in 2010, but was back as a starter in 2012. Last season was just the second game he missed since 1998 when a broken ankle and other injuries limited him to just 17 regular season games.

Tonight, he will hit leadoff for the AL and receive a number of rousing ovations from the Minnesota crowd, his teammates and his opponents. At some point, AL manager John Farrell will send Erick Aybar or Alexei Ramirez out to replace Jeter in the middle of an inning so that the 20-year veteran can receive one more thunderous July ovation.

And then one more “the last one” will be in the books.

 

Derek Jeter’s All-Star statistics

H AB AVG OPS R RBI HR 2B
11 25 .440 1.061 5 3 1 1

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Drew Sarver is the founder, publisher, managing editor, and a contributor for Designated For Assignment. He can be followed on twitter at @mypinstripes and @d4assignment or contacted by email at dsarver@d4assignment.com.