This One Hurts

Cruz

In 2013 Major League Baseball announced that Cruz would be serving a 50 game suspension for violation of the leagues performance enhancing drug policy which would keep him out of the lineup for the rest of the season. After offering and eventually Cruz declining a qualifying offer in the winter, the Rangers reportedly made Nelson Cruz a contract offer which he ultimately declined in order to join the Baltimore Orioles.

Since joining the former Rangers club also known as the Orioles, Cruz has been fantastic. He leads MLB baseball in home runs (21) and RBI (55) and has already amassed a 2.5 bWAR, his best year ever? 4.1 in 2010. All this while Choo has gotten ice cold after a great start with the Rangers. He’s hitting just .164 with a .303 on-base percentage in his last 66 plate appearances and has his lowest OBP since 2011.

No reasonable fan expects its favorite team’s front office to be perfect. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. There is also a segmentation of fans that refuse to acknowledge that mistakes happen. I’ve heard several reasons why Jon Daniels shouldn’t accept blame for not signing Nelson Cruz so I’d like to address a few. Shall we?

The Rangers offered him 14.1 million dollars and he turned it down dummy.

True!  The Rangers decided to exercise their ability to offer Nelson Cruz a qualifying offer (QO).  When MLB constructed their new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) they took away Type A and Type B designations which gave teams draft picks if certain players left in free agency. Instead, in order to get draft pick compensation, teams must offer a player a “qualifying offer” which is the average of the top 125 player salaries from the previous year.  This is always a one year offer.

This is an obvious gamble where the player holds most of the risk. A team doesn’t have to offer a player this QO. Instead the player must decide if it’s worth the risk to test the open market  now, and potentially get a multi-year contract, or play for the QO for one year where an  injury or down year which could reduce demand in the next contract year.

In 2013, 13 free agents were made a qualifying offer. Not one player accepted the offer. In the two off-seasons since the collective bargaining agreement was put in place, there has not been a player that has accepted a qualifying offer. Has it worked out for the player every time? No, Cruz is a good example of that since he signed a deal 6.1 million dollars less than the QO.  The point is that a QO is not a commitment from a team to a player. It’s a business formality by a team to get draft pick compensation.

Hey stupid, they would have lost out on a draft pick if they’d signed him. Go back to your Nolan Ryan fan club you JD hater.

Indeed angry fan, they would have. The Rangers and the Orioles both offered Nelson Cruz a contract knowing that if he signed, they would surrender a top draft pick. It’s been reported that the Rangers weren’t willing to give Cruz the guarantee of playing time in the outfield like the Orioles were willing to do and that played a big part in the decision that Cruz made to leave Texas for a 1/yr 8mil contract. Instead the Rangers signed Shin-Soo Choo to a 7/yr 130 mil deal and promptly forfeited a draft pick. I’m not going to argue the merits of signing Cruz over Choo but I will say that the draft pick issue is a non-issue considering how the Rangers responded with the Choo signing. I’ve also heard people say that Nelson Cruz was a huge defensive liability and they couldn’t play him in the outfield. One defensive metric that’s been created to try and quantify a player’s overall defensive value is UZR/150. Choo’s career UZR/150 in the outfield is -4.6, Cruz 2.0. Although there are things that Choo does better than Cruz it’s difficult to make the argument that Choo is a much better defensive outfielder.  Now where did I leave that Nolan Ryan decoder ring?

Hey, anyone ever tell you that you smell funny? Anyway, Cruz is a roided up punk who selfishly decided to take a suspension instead of fighting for the playoffs with his team!

I smell like fine leather and whiskey. By Cruz’ own admission, he knew that if he decided to fight the suspension that resulted from a Biogenesis whistle blower, he would have faced an even longer suspension that would have severely damaged his ability to get a new contract in 2014. It wasn’t selfish for Cruz to take his punishment, it was savvy and it was the right thing to do for him and his family. It’s the same thing that anyone in the same situation would have done whether they admit it or not.

Hindsight is 20/20. If you were amongst the many fans that were happy that the Rangers didn’t sign Cruz, don’t feel bad. There were some of us that were hoping he’d come back but just like Jon Daniels, one mistake doesn’t mean you’re any less awesome.

Jasen Southward
Jasen is a self described Rangers homer who lives in the valley of the lows and the crests of the highs. Tons of knee-jerk with a side of heart. Covering the minor leagues.

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