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Jon Daniels: Rangers "will likely" make qualifying offer to Nelson Cruz

Jon Daniels said today the Rangers will likely make the qualifying offer to free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz

Ronald Martinez

Per the beat writers today, Jon Daniels said the Rangers will likely make a qualifying offer to free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz.

Nelson Cruz's pending free agency situation is an interesting one...after a down year in 2012, the thought was that Cruz was on his last legs and would depart after the 2013 season.  Cruz ended up having a solid bounce-back year, however, putting up a .266/.327/.506 line in 456 plate appearances over 109 games.  His 123 OPS+ was the second highest he's put up over a full season.

Of course, the kicker was just 109 games, as Cruz missed most of the last third of the season after being popped with a 50 game suspension in connection with the Biogenesis/PED investigation.  If Cruz didn't have the Biogenesis cloud hanging over him and hadn't been missed 50 games because of a PED suspension, he'd probably be looking at a multi-year deal.  Now, though, you have to think the market is going to be a little cooler on him.  Given that Cruz's defense has declined significantly, he may be viewed as primarily a DH option, which would further limit the teams who would be pursuing him.

Given that the qualifying offer for 2014 is expected to be around $14M, given how qualifying offers chilled the market for other good, but not great, free agents this past offseason, given that Cruz only has five days to test the waters before deciding whether to accept, and given that Cruz has expressed a desire to stay in Texas, at this point, my guess is that Cruz accepts the qualifying offer.

If he does, that would put the Rangers' financial commitments to its players under contract and its arb-eligible players to around $115-120M for 2014, and would likely mean that the Rangers have their primary DH for 2014 locked in with Cruz.

If Cruz rejects the qualifying offer, then the Rangers stand to get a compensatory draft pick, should Cruz depart after the season.