We’re about a week into January and free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz is still without a home. The reasons are plentiful: he is tied to draft pick compensation, he has a history of involvement with performance-enhancing drugs, he has been prone to injuries, he is 33 years old, and he provides no value on the bases and with his defense.
As a result, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that some general managers think a one-year “pillow contract” would be a good idea for Cruz. If Cruz is able to stay out of trouble, stay healthy, and stay productive, he might have an easier time securing a multi-year deal next off-season despite being a year older.
Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre exemplified how a pillow contract can benefit a player. After finishing up an injury-plagued 2009 season with the Mariners in which he posted a career-low 83 adjusted OPS, Beltre took a one-year, $9 million deal with the Red Sox which included a $5 million second-year player option. Beltre’s adjusted OPS went up to 141 and he finished with 7.8 WAR according to Baseball Reference. During the off-season, he signed a five-year, $80 million deal with the Rangers at the age of 32.
Taking a one-year deal would be a bit of a risk to Cruz. He can likely still get a three- or four-year deal but he will have to lower his price into the Curtis Granderson area ($60 million). He could get more next off-season with a productive 2014, but he could also further sink his value if he gets hurt or struggles. In such an event, he would torpedo any hope of getting one more big deal before his career is over.
The Yankees fell behind early to the Orioles on Sunday afternoon, a day after dropping both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader. Their game, as did every other game on Sunday with the exception of the Braves-Cardinals doubleheader, started at 3:05 or 3:10 EDT, a change Major League Baseball recently made to create fairness on the final day of the season.
Girardi is not a fan. Per the Associated Press:
It was cloudy at Camden Yards at 3:05 p.m., but late-afternoon games often make it difficult for batters to see pitches.
Girardi said, “Here’s the thing that bothers me: If it’s a sunny day you’re playing in shadows.”
He added, “If it’s the most important game of the year to get in, I don’t think that’s right.”
Understanding the idea is for every team to play at the same time, Girardi said, “Then play all night games.”
One wonders if MLB had scheduled Sunday’s slate of games for the night, if Girardi would have instead complained about batters losing fly balls in the stadium lights. Furthermore, both teams have to play in the same conditions.
Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki was given an opportunity to play a new position in Sunday’s series finale against the Phillies. After the Phillies rallied to take a 6-2 lead in the seventh, the Marlins let Suzuki take the hill in the eighth. And, in news that surprises no one, he was impressive.
Though Suzuki gave up a run on two hits, he flashed a fastball that hit the mid-80’s and a breaking ball with some bite.
Suzuki, who turns 42 years old later this month, is 65 hits of 3,000 in his major league career. The Marlins are interested in bringing him back in 2016.