Rangers likely to make qualify offer to Nelson Cruz

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Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News that he’s leaning toward making a qualifying offer to impending free agent Nelson Cruz, which would either dramatically increase his odds of returning to Texas or crush his value on the open market.

Qualifying offers are essentially one-year, $14 million deals. Cruz could simply accept, in which case he’ll be back with the Rangers at that salary for 2014, or he could decline and then if/when he signs elsewhere the Rangers will get a draft pick as compensation.

As a 34-year-old coming off a 50-game suspension Cruz would probably struggle to generate a ton of multi-year interest as a free agent anyway, so he might be better off taking the one-year deal for what is a big salary and hitting the open market next year. How many other teams will be interested in losing a draft pick for the right to give him a big multi-year deal?

Dominic Smith likely to start the season at Triple-A

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Following the Mets’ recent signing of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that fellow first baseman Dominic Smith is likely to start the season with Triple-A Las Vegas. That is contingent, of course, on the veteran Gonzalez’s ability to remain healthy, which isn’t a guarantee.

Smith, 22, struggled last season, batting .198/.262/.395 in 183 plate appearances. The Mets have also expressed concern about Smith’s conditioning. Puma reported in November that as a result of better dietary choices and a daily exercise regimen, Smith had already lost 11-12 pounds.

Gonzalez, 35, didn’t exactly have a stellar 2017 campaign. Along with battling back issues, Gonzalez hit .242/.287/.355 in 252 PA. That the Mets’ Plan A is to go with Gonzalez over Smith says something about their confidence in Smith.