When CBS Sports released their MLB insiders predictions on where major free-agents would land on Saturday, two names linked with the Phillies scared me. The first name that scared me was Jacoby Ellsbury, who I wrote on Saturday just isn’t a good fit for the Phillies, even without taking his his price-tag into account. The second name was Nelson Cruz, who both Jon Heyman and Scott Miller believe will sign with the Phillies.
Heyman: Philly is desperate for outfield help after recent personnel errors there.
Miller: After Delmon Young last year, the Phillies can’t swing and miss in the outfield again, can they?
As much as we like to discredit and mess with Jon Heyman, his point couldn’t be more accurate. And if you even mention the name Delmon Young in Philadelphia, your point will be received so Miller gets credit as well. The on the field fit for a right-handed bat that has produced 24 plus homeruns five years straight isn’t the issue.
The real reason I cringed when I saw Cruz’s name linked with the Phillies was because of the 50 game suspension he served through the Rangers stretch run last season due to his involvement with Tony Bosch and the Biogensis scandal last season. I am one of the most outspoken people against PED’s that you will ever find, so don’t take this as me giving Cruz a pass for his involvement with them, but the on the field fit is just to hard to ignore.
Cruz struggles to stay healthy, but when he is out there he is an All-Star caliber right fielder. He hit 27 homerun and drove in 76 RBI’s in only 108 games before being suspended last year. Project those numbers out over a full season and Cruz was likely to hit over 35 homeruns and 100 RBI’s. I don’t know how much of his season was aided by the fact that he was in a contract season and potentially had the help of PED’s, but I think given the fact that the Phillies were desperate enough to start guys like Delmon Young, Roger Bernadina, and Casper Wells in the outfield last season, it may be worth finding out.
Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reported that the Rangers would extend a 14.1 million dollar qualifying offer to Cruz that would reward them with a draft pick if Cruz chooses to decline the offer. Given the circumstances, Cruz may very well accept the offer from the Rangers because their isn’t a chance that he gets 14.1 million annually on the open market, and it is unlikely that he gets a deal longer than one year unless he takes a major discount. But if Cruz is stubborn enough to think that he can get that or believes he can rehab his image easier by changing uniforms, that is where the Phillies come in. A one-year deal for Cruz worth between seven and ten million would be a reasonable risk for the Phillies because of how much Cruz could potentially bring to the Phillies lineup.
If Cruz doesn’t work out, then Darin Ruf is a nice insurance option for the Phillies. But taking the risk with Nelson Cruz, if Chase Utley and Ryan Howard can stay healthy, could give the Phillies a playoff caliber lineup at least. No word on whether that would fix the Phillies bullpen or back end of the rotation.