The Baltimore Orioles are making a splash in the free agent pool. After signing pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, they signed veteran outfielder Nelson Cruz to a one-year deal. Cruz had much success with the Texas Rangers and will strengthen the Orioles lineup as the No. 5 hitter.
In his last five seasons, Cruz exploded with power as he hit at least at least 22 home runs and 76 RBI. On the downside, he hit close around a .260 average and struck out over 100 times in four of the last five seasons. In his last season with the Rangers, Cruz was suspended 50 games for using PEDs. He still hit 27 home runs and 76 RBI in 109 games.
However, there may be some downside to Cruz leaving Texas, because it’s such a hitter’s ballpark. Another thing is that he turn 34 in the middle of the season and is on the downswing of his career. On the flip side, batting behind Chris Davis and Adam Jones will help Cruz. Pitchers may pitch around one or both of them, leading to Cruz driving in multiple runs.
Cruz will be outfield eligible in fantasy drafts, but he will most likely be the Orioles designated hitter. Being the DH keeps Cruz healthy and makes him draftable between rounds 10 and 12. On the high end, he will be a OF3. Realistically, he will be an OF4 because the position is so deep.
If you draft Cruz expect 25 home runs, 76 RBI and a .261 average as a top-40 outfielder.