What Nelson Cruz's rejection of Texas' qualifying offer means for the Phillies
Nelson Cruz's decision to reject the Rangers' qualifying offer, as reported by Dallas-area media, essentially means the free agent right fielder and his representatives have found a decent market for his services. Had Cruz accepted the deal, he would have earned $14.1 million in 2014 before hitting free agency again.
This really doesn't change things for the Phillies, who are in the market for a right-handed power bat and would seem like a team who would at least engage in preliminary discussions with Cruz. But it does offer a reminder that the 33-year-old slugger could end up being a relative value compared to the rest of the market. Any team that signs Cruz will have to forfeit a draft pick.
For 19 of the 30 major league teams, that would mean a first-rounder. The Phillies, on the other hand, would forfeit their second rounder since the No. 7 overall pick is protected. The prospect of forfeiting a pick is one of a number of factors that could depress Cruz's value.
He is coming off a 50-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs. He is not regarded as a strong defender. He strikes out a lot (109 times in 413 at bats in 2013) and does not walk much (a .327 OBP in 2013). Plus, he has some drastic home/road splits: a .912 career OPS at the Ballpark at Arlington, a .734 OPS everywhere else.
The Phillies' protected pick should be a big advantage. Of the other 10 teams who would not have to sacrifice a first rounder, it is hard to imagine the Astros, Marlins, Cubs, Twins or Mets having much interest in Cruz. The Rockies have a loaded outfield with Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler. Same goes for the Blue Jays. That leaves the White Sox, Mariners and Blue Jays.
Free agents have until 5 p.m. today to accept or reject qualifying offers. Another player to keep your eye on is Curtis Granderson. I would be mildly surprised to see him accept an offer from the Yankees. The Phillies have given mixed signals about their view of Ben Revere in center field. The league's general managers are meeting today in Orlando, although the news that comes out of them is usually sparse.