Author: Aaron Gleeman

Nelson Cruz

Reminder: Meddling owners kept the Mariners from getting Nelson Cruz much, much cheaper


Following the news that the Mariners have signed Nelson Cruz to a four-year deal worth around $57 million, I thought it would be worth remembering that Mariners ownership kept them from signing Cruz last offseason … when he was much cheaper.

Here’s a previous report from the ultra-reliable Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune:

The Mariners had a deal in place last winter with Cruz, then a free agent, for roughly $7.5 million in 2014 with a club option of about $9 million for 2105…before ownership backed away. The primary concern, which all clubs shared, was how Cruz, then 33, would respond after being caught and suspended as part of the Biogenesis drug scandal.

Still, officials with several clubs say they stopped viewing Cruz as a potential target because they expected he would bridge any differences with the Mariners. “I still don’t know what happened there,” an official with a rival club said. “We were told it was done. And it seemed such an obvious fit for both sides. There was risk, certainly, but…”

One year and 40 homers later, apparently no one cares about the PED stuff. But caring back then cost the Mariners a lot. Instead of getting Cruz for $7.5 million in 2014 and $9 million in 2015, the Mariners let him hit 40 homers for the Orioles while missing the playoffs by one game in 2014 and are now paying him $57 million for 2015-2018.

Pirates acquire Sean Rodriguez from Rays, designate Gaby Sanchez for assignment

Sean Rodriguez AP

Sean Rodriguez, whom the Rays designated for assignment last week, has been traded to the Pirates for a player to be named later and cash. And to make room on the roster Pittsburgh designated for assignment Gaby Sanchez.

Pittsburgh is committed to the left-handed-hitting Pedro Alvarez at first base in 2015 and the right-handed-hitting Sanchez could have stuck around to platoon with him, but the Pirates felt his projected $2.7 million arbitration salary was too much for that role (and/or they prefer Rodriguez).

Rodriguez brings a lot of defensive versatility to the table as a utility man and can hit left-handed pitching pretty well, but he’s been terrible versus right-handed pitching and is a career .225 hitter with a .670 OPS overall. He’s projected to make around $2 million via arbitration for 2015, after which Rodriguez will be a free agent.

Sanchez struggled this year, hitting .229 with seven homers and a .679 OPS in 123 games. He’s a career .254 hitter with a .744 OPS, including .291 with an .863 OPS versus lefties, so at the very least the 31-year-old Sanchez will find a part-time role elsewhere.

Mets “actively” looking to trade Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee

Bartolo Colon

Their first big move of the offseason was to sign 35-year-old outfielder Michael Cuddyer, but the Mets are apparently trying to part ways with some veteran pitching.

Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports that they’re “actively” looking to trade one of Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese, and Dillon Gee and “have already engaged clubs” on possible deals.

According to Davidoff they’re not expecting big returns, but instead want to free up some payroll space to invest elsewhere and are confident enough in younger rotation options to move on without a veteran.

Colon is due $11 million in 2015, Dee is projected to make about $5 million in 2015 and is also under team control in 2016, and Niese is under contract through 2018.

Marlins acquire Aaron Crow from Royals

Aaron Crow

Aaron Crow became a forgotten man in the Royals’ deep bullpen and Ken Rosenthal of reports that they’ve traded the 27-year-old right-hander to the Marlins for left-hander Brian Flynn.

Earlier today the Royals re-signed veteran right-hander Jason Frasor to a one-year, $1.8 million deal, which no doubt made them more comfortable parting with Crow.

Crow made the All-Star team as a rookie in 2011, but his yearly strikeout rate has dipped from 9.4 to 9.0 to 8.3 to 5.2 and this year he posted a 4.12 ERA with a 34/24 K/BB ratio while serving up 10 homers in 59 innings. His velocity was also down to 91-92 miles per hour after being 94-95 mph previously.

Flynn is a 6-foot-7 lefty acquired by the Marlins from the Tigers in the Anibal Sanchez trade and has given up 24 runs in 25 innings as a big leaguer so far, but the 24-year-old has decent minor-league numbers as a starter and could be a back-of-the-rotation option.

Royals re-sign Jason Frasor for $1.8 million

Houston Astros v Texas Rangers

Jason Frasor will be back with the Royals, agreeing to a one-year, $1.8 million deal with a team option for 2016.

Kansas City acquired Frasor from Texas in mid-July and the 36-year-old right-hander pitched very well down the stretch with a 1.53 ERA and 16/4 K/BB ratio in 18 innings.

A veteran of 11 seasons and 647 career appearances, Frasor has posted a sub-4.00 ERA in five of the past six years and has a combined 2.62 ERA with 94 strikeouts in 96 innings since 2013.

Barring some trades he’ll fill a middle relief role for the bullpen-rich Royals in 2015 and a total commitment under $2 million is a bargain.