The Orioles will give Nelson Cruz a qualifying offer

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The Orioles have been talking to — or at least trying to talk to — Nelson Cruz about a long term deal. That hasn’t borne fruit yet, so now a little pressure: Jon Heyman reports that the Orioles plan to make a qualifying offer to Cruz.

The qualifying offer this year is $15.3 million, and if he is given such an offer, anyone who signs Cruz would owe the O’s a pick. Last year Cruz had a hard time finding work, partially because he was tainted with the Biogenesis stuff, partially because had a qualifying offer attached to him. He ended up signing with the O’s for a bargain basement $8 million.

The question now is whether anyone would be willing to offer him any sort of deal that would pay him $15.3 million+ in 2015 if it means having to give up a draft pick for him. Yes, he had a big year — 40 homers and a .525 slugging percentage — but it was also only the second season in his career where he played as many as 130 games, it was by far his most productive year and it came at age 34.

A lot of people gambled wrong on Nelson Cruz last winter. But would you gamble on that happening again, in a season in which he’ll turn 35? And would you gamble twice as much plus a draft pick that it’ll happen?

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?