Nelson Cruz tells Rangers he’s rejecting qualifying offer

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Today is the deadline for free agents to accept or decline qualifying offers made by teams and Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that Nelson Cruz has informed the Rangers he’ll reject the deal.

That means Cruz is confident he can do better than a one-year, $14.1 million deal on the open market. Not shocking, certainly, but interesting considering he’s a good but not great 33-year-old corner outfielder coming off a season in which he was suspended 50 games for performance-enhancing drugs and any team signing him would lose a draft pick.

When in the Rangers’ lineup Cruz hit .266 with 27 homers and an .833 OPS in 107 games, basically matching his career norms. If he signs elsewhere the Rangers will get a draft pick as compensation.

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
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The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.