GM says Mariners “would love to have Nelson Cruz, but …”

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As expected the draft pick compensation attached to signing Nelson Cruz has significantly hurt the free agent outfielder’s market, leaving him unsigned with weeks before spring training begins.

In speaking at the Mariners’ fan fest event general manager Jack Zduriencik was very open about the team’s interest in Cruz, but also laid out exactly why his price tag is effected by the draft pick:

I’ve had a lot of discussions with Adam Katz, his agent. There’s an economic factor tied to that, as well as losing your draft pick. Would I like to have him here? Absolutely. I’d love to have Nelson Cruz in this lineup. But how much do you have to pay him, how many years is it going to be and are you willing to lose another draft pick? Those are the things you have to factor.

Seattle has already lost its second-round pick for signing Robinson Cano, so in theory the Mariners would be giving up less–a third-round pick–to sign Cruz than most teams. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports that the Orioles are also interested in Cruz, but adds that he may end up trying to re-sign with the Rangers on a one-year deal.