Seattle missed the playoffs by one game, so this report from Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune is interesting regarding the Mariners’ offseason pursuit of free agent Nelson Cruz:
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…”
Cruz eventually signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles and led the league with 40 homers, hitting .271 with an .859 OPS in 159 games. By comparison, the Mariners’ designated hitters–mostly Corey Hart and Kendrys Morales–batted a combined .190 with 15 homers and a .567 OPS.
Not only would replacing their DHs with Cruz have gotten the Mariners to the playoffs this season, as Dutton notes they would have had him under team control for $9 million next season as well.