Detroit Tigers Roundtable: On Nelson Cruz, the Leadoff Spot, and Magical Upgrades

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Sep 30, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz (17) watches batting practice before the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rangers Ballpark at Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Nelson Cruz has been a hot debate topic around here. What would be your maximum offer to him if you were Dave Dombrowski?

Chris Hannum: I would rather have a first round pick than Nelson Cruz, who I expect would be a replacement level player in a large park. If he would sign for 4 years at league minimum, I still wouldn’t do it.

Matt Pelc: I’d give him one year, $6 or $7 million and put some incentives in there like games played, average/home run bench marks. Leftfield would be crowded, but Cruz could stand out from the rest if he’s playing for incentive and is in a contract year with the goal of securing a Jhonny Peralta-like redemption contact in 2015.

Matt Snyder: I don’t think I’d even offer him the minimum. I think he’s a downgrade over the current left field platoon, and probably no better than a push with Victor Martinez at DH. I’m probably being overly harsh here (the Tigers could use a DH next year, and a cheap Cruz could work very well in that spot), but he’s clearly in his decline years and can’t play the field at all.

Scott Byrne: One year in Torii Hunter range – $10-13 mil. But I doubt it will happen due to the draft pick compensation.

Michael Emmerich: I would definitely make him an aggressive one-year offer. Maybe for 12 million. Lack of power, as I explain in this Saturday’s article, could torpedo the Tigers’  hopes of getting out of the AL.

Josie Parnell: While I’m not a fan of Cruz personally, I do believe he could bring some value to the Tigers, but only if the planned Dirks/Davis doesn’t work the way I’m (really, really) hoping it will. That said, if the power was in my hands, I’d offer Cruz 1yr/6 million, if only for the power threat he would bring to the table. It’s up to Cruz to redeem himself and prove he’s truly the player he seems to believe he is, and until then nothing more than one year and $6 million.

Tom Zahari: If I offered Cruz a deal at all, it would be for 2 years, $18 million. Cruz’s power would not translate well from Texas to Detroit not even factoring the PED issue. I would not sign Cruz because he would cost the Tigers a draft pick and money that they could use to improve other aspects of this team, not an outfield that is already pretty well set or a DH spot that already has an everyday player in Victor Martinez.

Josh Paulisin: Don’t want him. You have solid left fielders in Andy Dirks and Rajai Davis. The Tigers will most likely work with a platoon between these two. Adding another outfielder to the mix would just be silly, especially since they have been fiscally responsible this offseason.

Blair Tatrault: With the Tigers’ signing of left fielder Rajai Davis for 2 years and $10 million, it’s hard to see where Cruz would fit into the master plan. He would also cost a first round draft pick, which is a further deterrent to any deal. The appeal, of course, is his potent bat, which would look good in the number five slot in the order. Since impact hitters are hard to find, I’d offer him $16 million over two years, but he won’t take that. If he does, you just turned Davis into the world’s most expensive pinch runner, unless you can flip him. Save the money for Scherzer’s new contract and keep the draft pick. If it turns out we need a bopper, pick one up in July.

Grant Stoye: I am not so hot on Cruz, but if he were willing to accept a 1-year “prove it” kind of deal for around $1-3 million it’d definitely be worth a shot.

Sam O’Toole: I have been a proponent of signing Nelson Cruz and even wrote an article about it.  The Tigers are short on power for 2014 AND 2015, with Hunter and Martinez becoming free agents.  The right deal for Cruz would be a one-year (player option in the second year); he could fill the open designated hitter spot in 2015 if Martinez isn’t retained.  Cruz’s demands are still very high which is the main reason why he isn’t signed to a major league contract yet.  I would offer him one year, $11 million deal with a player option in 2015.  The player option allows Cruz to test the market again if he has a big year in 2014.  Cruz made $10.5 million in 2013, so paying him on a one-year deal for the same amount isn’t out of the question.  Cruz will take the one-year deal from someone before Spring Training.

Summary: the median MCB offer to Cruz would be 1-year, $6.5 million.