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?