Market finally heating up for Nelson Cruz

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Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe shares the info:

Nelson Cruz, OF, free agent — Momentum is starting to build in Cruz’s favor. While a one-year deal somewhere is still not out of the question, there are teams with righthanded power needs, and Cruz could benefit. The Mariners remain interested, but according to one major league source, “there could be up to four or five teams who could take the plunge in the end.”

Cruz was busted last year for PEDs and his free agency is tied to draft pick compensation, so it’s been a slow-moving winter for the outfielder. The Mariners are looking for more offense and would only have to give up a third-round pick to sign Cruz, but the salary demands were still an issue as of last week.

The Orioles and Tigers have been suggested as potential fits, and a return to Texas can’t be ruled out yet.

Cruz, 33, has averaged 35 home runs and 106 RBI per 162 games since the beginning of the 2009 season.

Report: Phillies interested in Manny Machado; Orioles have done homework on Phillies’ minor league system

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Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there hasn’t been much in the way of progress on a contract extension between the two sides. It seems as if Machado will test the open market next offseason.

The Phillies, currently with relatively minuscule obligations for the 2018 season and beyond, are expected to be big players for Machado, as well as other potential free agents like Bryce Harper. In fact, the Phillies may not even want to wait until next offseason, as Roch Kubatko of MASN reports that the club has expressed interest in Machado to the Orioles. In return, the O’s have been doing their homework on the Phillies’ minor league system.

Kubatko notes that the Orioles like, in particular, Phillies prospects Sixto Sanchez and Scott Kingery. The Phillies may be hesitant to part with either considering they can get Machado for a lot of cash but no prospects next winter. MLB Pipeline rates Sanchez as the Phillies’ best pitching prospect and the second-best prospect overall in the system. Kingery is third overall and the top infielder. While the Phillies’ system is among the best in baseball, its notable weakness is pitching, so parting with Sanchez — who throws in the upper 90’s and can hit triple digits — would be a big ask. Kingery is seen as the club’s next second baseman of the future, so much so that the Phillies are shopping Cesar Hernandez at the Winter Meetings.

As usual with rumors during the Winter Meetings, there may be some smoke but no actual fire here. The Orioles are likely to get continued interest in Machado from many teams between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They are simply doing their due diligence by seeing what the Phillies and others have to offer for Machado.