Unconfirmed Report: Yanks inquired about Nelson Cruz


Via Frankie Piliere of AOL FanHouse, the Yankees are exploring trade options for left field, and one player they may have asked about is Rangers’ outfielder Nelson Cruz. Piliere makes it clear that this is an unconfirmed report, so make sure you take it with a big grain of salt. That doesn’t mean we can’t discuss it, though.

The 29-year-old Cruz was an All Star in 2009, his first full season in the majors. He’s got power (33 HR, .264 IsoP in ’09) and he can definitely defend in the corners (19.6 UZR in over 2,200 innings in RF), though his on-base skills are meh at best (87 unintentional walks in 1,125 big league plate appearances) and he had a ridiculous home-road split last year. Cruz is a sexy name that’ll excite people because he hit lots of homers in 2009, but the price will likely outweigh the production. Unless we’re talking a Swisherian type of heist here, I wouldn’t bother.

Here’s the layout of Cruz’s 2009 home runs, all 33 of them, as they would play at Yankee Stadium.

It appears that even had he hit all 33 of those home run balls at Yankee Stadium, they all would have left the yard. Cruz’s average standard home run distance of 413.9 feet ranked fourth in the majors, and his 12 no-doubts ranked fifth in the AL.


  1. Uh, dude, I’d trade for that. Just not teh Jesus.

    • whozat says:

      No way, the guy is mostly an arlington illusion who had a career year. If it costs ZMac and Nova (I can’t see it costing much less), I think that’s actually worse for the organization because it costs them, really, their only upper level pitching depth and I expect Cruz would be a disappointment.

      • Tom Zig says:

        .778 OPS away from Arlington
        .752 OPS vs Lefties

        Not dreadful, but you’re right it’ll cost too much.

      • ledavidisrael says:

        Id do it for Zmac & Nova.

        @ worst him plus gardner gives us dope defense @ LF while giving us + speed and average power from the 9 hole.

        Best case scenario we have a left fielder who can field well, swipe some bags and with some serious thump in the 9 hole.

      • Johnny says:

        Yankee Stadium isn’t exactly a pitcher’s park. I think Cruz would fit fine there.

        But I agree, the Yankees should value their pitching depth more.

    • chriso says:

      Before any Yankees fan gets worked up about this….Why would Texas trade him?
      And after you try to answer that, and you realize that they have absolutely no good reason to trade him, you realize that the price to obtain Cruz would be very high. And then you’d just have to wonder why, in the world, did you ever bother considering such a ridiculous trade?

  2. I’m assuming he would only be a RH caddy for the Great Grit Gritner. No?

  3. Omar says:

    He’s been +10 in UZR like three times

    • Omar says:

      Errr…shall I say UZR/150. He’s a good defender, and we know he has the power…his lack of OBP skills will prevent him from being an elite player. Though he is older than I thought he was. Hmmm…that changes things quite a bit.

  4. AndrewYF says:

    This is a man who was traded, on separate occasions, for Jorge Velandia and Keith Ginter.

  5. JMK aka The Overshare's Garden Apartment Complex says:

    They’d probably take Z-Mac, Romine, ManBan, but why on earth would the Yankees do that? No way any of this involves Joba, Hughes or Montero. None. The Yankees have already lost a fair amount of depth on their farm, and I’d imagine, as Mike and others have speculated, the cost to get Cruz would be far too much, not just in terms of the deal itself, but the totality of their operations. We’d certainly be surrendering pitching depth, and probably some of our top pieces in the Romine, ManBan pile.

    I just don’t see either team being a good fit for the other.

    Anyone have any I-know-my-trade-proposal-sucks-but-it’s-fun-to-speculate trade proposals?

  6. ROBTEN says:

    1. Mike, you also posted a report a few weeks ago on mlbtraderumors that the Rays and the Reds were interested in Cruz as well. Why would the Reds, Rays, Yanks (potentially), and other unnamed teams all think that Cruz might be available, given that he is under team control until 2013 and has an extremely favorable contract? Is it a case where he will be due a significant raise and there is some question about his ability to maintain his current production (i.e are the Rangers trying to sell high)? The pending sale of the team? Do they have a glut of young outfielders?

    2. Given his numbers and contract, what kind of package do others think it would take? I don’t know what the Rangers needs are, but if they are interested in a “righty hitting middle-of-the-order bat,” as Mike posted last month, I don’t know what the Yanks could realistically offer except Montero, which is already too much.

    • JMK aka The Overshare's Garden Apartment Complex says:

      Not Mike, but his contract’s arb years start in 2011-2013. He’ll be making $400k next year. I’d assume they’re simply selling high on the kid, and this is not a financial decision at all.

      Their top prospects don’t appear to be in the outfield, outside of Mitch Moreland, who may not profile as an outfielder. His bat looks pretty good but defense could be really dicey, though having Hamilton and Borbon might offset his poor defense. Murphy looks to be more a platoon player than good starter. The Rangers definitely don’t have a glut of young, good outfielders.

      Given his contract and his sexy-but-misleading numbers, the Yankees really don’t have much they can offer that the Rangers would likely find appealing. All teams would love pitching, so the Yanks could conceivably throw in Z-Mac and some high-upside guys, but as far as good-quality, young hitters for the middle of the lineup, it doesn’t exist. Montero won’t go, and he’s the only prospect above Hi-A that could fit the description.

      Texas probably has some scouts that are saying he’s an overrated older guy, and now is the time to sell high. Let’s stockpile some young talent before the word is out on him.

      Just my take.

      • iYankees says:

        Morosi and Rosenthal reported that the Rangers were in no way motivated to move Cruz in November. I don’t think they’re at all interested in moving him either, as the Yankees probably just called about Cruz, were told he wasn’t available, and that was it.

      • ROBTEN says:

        Thanks. I figured that the Rangers might have seen it as a “sell high” proposition–float his name and see what they could get–but didn’t know enough about the Rangers’ farm/ownership situation to know whether there were other motivating factors.

  7. Johnny says:

    I don’t think Cruz’s production would drop off too much going from one hitter’s park to another.

    But I agree the price would probably be too steep.

    • JMK aka The Overshare's Garden Apartment Complex says:

      Yankee Stadium being a “hitter’s park” is a misnomer—it’s a home run park, not a pure hitter’s park.

  8. Salty Buggah says:

    Unless we’re talking a Swisherian type of heist here, I wouldn’t bother.

    So basically like a Wordekemper? But that’s impossible

  9. Reggie C. says:

    Nelson Cruz would be a fine addition of power out of the 5/6 slot in the lineup, and his defense doesn’t look worse than league average. I agree with the general sentiment however that the cost will be prohibitive. If multiple teams are calling the Rangers, then Cash almost had to pick up the phone and find out if the rumors were true. Other teams have deeper farms and greater needs of a power hitter than the Yanks. On several teams, Cruz would be hailed as a #4 hitter; not the case here.

    Chances are someone like Josh Willingham ($4.6 mm) might come cheaper given that his salary is somewhat substantial and he’s arb eligible once more in 2011. Willingham for … Nova and Bleich?

  10. aj says:

    He would be a great add to the team. To those who don’t think he’d work, the reason he had a career year because it was basically his rookie year! Also, his minor league numbers show great power with some speed. And he was great in 115 AB last year (.330, .421, .609). It would be probably just cost too much, but I think Cruz is an undervalued guy. He’ll be on my 2010 fantasy roster. I’d go ape if he were on the Yanks’.

    • Reggie C. says:

      Its kinda mystifying why Cruz would be made available unless this new Rangers ownership is trying to pry a premium return. They might be banking on a healthier Hamilton and maybe Justin Smoak’s big league promotion to pick up offensive slack.

      If there’s one guy who should go from that lineup its K-ris Davis.

    • Zack says:

      Yes it was his first full season, he was also 28 and not 23-25.
      He had a gerat 115 AB in 2008, he had 462 this year and his AVG/OBP obviously suffered, give him 600 AB and what would happen?

      • aj says:

        That makes no sense. He had 462 AB in 2009 and he hit 33 HRs and stole 20 bags. Of he had a full season of 600AB he would have had even more. And his OBP was still .70 higher than his avg. I’m not making him out to be a superstar, but he could turn out being a Jayson Werth type. Which would be great to trade for.

  11. Ivan says:

    Im always skeptical of players who are low OBP% guys. The key here is that can he improved as a hitter in the future and I dont know if he can or not.

  12. The Situation says:

    This is not going to happen.Just relax the Yankees are done trading.If they get another outfielder it will be a free agent.

  13. Chip says:

    I’m down for this on maybe a Gaudin/Russo type of deal. I agree that it’s probably not going to happen unless Ken Williams suddenly gets hired on as the Ranger’s GM.

    However, think for a minute about that outfield. You’re looking at possible 30 homers from every spot in that outfield while still having the best infield by far in the league. If they run a lineup of


    along with one of the best rotations in the league, everyone else should just give up.

  14. [...] the Yankees may have asked about is Nelson Cruz. This is an unconfirmed report relayed to us by RAB, so I don’t know how reliable this source is. I hope this is true, as I think Nelson would [...]

  15. Salty Buggah says:

    Nelson Cruz 2009 Splits:

    Home: .931 OPS
    Away: .778 OPS

    vs. RHP: .898
    vs. LHP: .752

    So he can’t hit well away from Arlington and has a somewhat pronounced split as he’s worse against lefties.

    I agree with Mike that unless Cash could make a Swisherian trade for him, it’s not worth it. While he’ll probably be an upgrade over Gardner, the cost will be too much. Also, Gardner could produce as much as him if he can sustain crazy +25 UZR/150 (probably higher if 09 was any indication of his defensive abilities) and an OBP around .345 for a whole season. We also need to see if Cruz can replicate his 09 stats again since it was his first full season and it was as a 28 yr old. Additionally, it remains to be seen if he can hit well outside of Texas.

    In the end, like all other trades, it comes down to cost, which will be presumably too much. Pass

  16. What’s going to be worse: the two week wait for the Super Bowl or the umpteen rumors such as this one?

  17. Butch Belt says:

    Why are we not including the new guy Jamie H? For the Dodgers, he has shown great promise and was just caught up in the numbers game with all the talent they have (Either,Kemp and Manny world).

    • Tom Zig says:

      He is a right handed Brett Gardner.

    • Bo says:

      There was a big reason he was a rule 5 pick up.

    • Master of all Trades says:

      he has shown great promise


    • pete says:

      i would have to disagree with the “great promise” remark. What he’s shown in the minors is that if he has a typical AAA-MLB statistical regression, he’ll be a useful complimentary player, especially in a 9th hitting, platoon role with another exceptional defensive outfielder who bats left handed. That said, the “typical AAA-MLB statistical regression” is only “typical” of players in the MLB. Some players, like Shelley Duncan (and probably juan miranda), for instance, can put up very respectable or even exceptional numbers in AAA and not even be worthy of a bench role on a good MLB club. Now, do I think that Hoffman is more likely to be like a 2006 version of Melky than Shelley? sure. but that’s because I’m an optimist, not a realist. The point is that because Hoffman’s only truly plus tool is his arm, which turns him (in scouts’ eyes) from a pretty good defensive corner OFer to a very good one (once again, he really does seem to be a non switch-hitting version of melky), there’s no real way to project his bat at the major league level. While he has, as I’ve said, put up respectable minor league numbers, nothing in the numbers or the scouting reports jumps out about his offense. That means that he could be simply a league average or slightly below offensive player, but it’s still quite possible that he turns out to be a well-below replacement level player. The point is you just don’t know.

  18. Cruz is a sexy name that’ll excite people because he hit lots of homers in 2009, but the price will likely outweigh the production. Unless we’re talking a Swisherian type of heist here, I wouldn’t bother.

    Axisa, you’re so wise. Like a miniature buddha, covered in hair.

  19. mustang says:

    Does Texas have a leadoff guy? To be more direct do they have a Gardner type? Looking at their line-up I see lots of power no speed, but I don’t know all their guys?

    I’m thinking Gardner + Gaudin and a prospect, but I agree with most of you I think the cost would be too high.

  20. ray-ray says:

    Before 09′ began,any team in baseball had the right to claim cruz…he had MONSTER numbers in the minors and appeared JINXED in 2 small stints in the majors…this guy is for REAL..I hate trading prospects more than anybody..but gaudin and romine is ACTUALLY a good fit for tx and this guy is is awesome!!!

  21. ray-ray says:

    ABSOLUTELY HATE the idea of giving up romine..who probably will be our catcher if he stays for a long time..but cruz just completed his 1st year in the majors..this is not a 1 or 2 year fix like m.cameron ala desperate boston..5 years of control for a guy like this is worth a romine…in my humble opinion…

    • Steve H says:

      Please tell me why Texas would even want Romine (and please use the reply button)

    • but cruz just completed his 1st year in the majors..this is not a 1 or 2 year fix like m.cameron ala desperate boston..5 years of control for a guy like this is worth a romine…in my humble opinion…

      Nelson Cruz also turns 30 years old in July. Don’t forget that.

      Yes, we’d be getting him while we still have numerous years of contractual control, but they’re not his youthful peak. They’re the tail end of his peak and the beginning of his decline.

      • ray-ray says:

        In my opinion..thats what puts this over the top.Romines(or any other young kid)has learning curves that eat up YEARS of control where as this guy gives you most likely 4 to 5 years of top production at bargain prices..get him!!!

        • Zack says:

          Except you probably wont get “top production” out of Cruz for 4-5 years, there’s a reason why his first full season came at 29.

          • ray-ray says:

            Lack of opportunity and mis-handeling,thats the reason.Small sample size looks 2 or 3 times that produced horrid #s after absolute MONSTER numbers in the minors led to this breakout..on a different team,this would have happened 2 years ago

        • But what I’m saying is, you may not really be getting “4 to 5 years of top production”.

          You may get 1-2 years of top production at bargain prices, and then 3-4 years of mediocre production as Cruz loses bat speed and begins his decline, but now at non-bargain, arbitration-increased prices.

          Which is the exact reason Cruz is available in the first place. If he had his first full season in the bigs at 25, he wouldn’t be on the market. Since he had it at 29, he is. He’s already lost half of his peak. Maybe more.

          I’ll give up a piece for him, but not a piece as good as Romine. That’s overpaying for a guy who has red flags. Consistently good hitters generally establish themselves as big league regulars before the age of 29. Cruz is too risky to surrender premium talent for. He may be a flash in the pan, and his window is already half closed.

      • mustang says:

        “Nelson Cruz also turns 30 years old in July. Don’t forget that.”

        And He will drop dead shortly after.


  22. Jammy Jammers says:

    I’d rather have Penelope Cruz.

  23. ray-ray says:

    First off..jimmy jammers is the most right,but seriously did you guys ACTUALLY WATCH this guy hit..power and speed like this in the post-steroid era will not grow on trees..this was the FIRST real chance this guy received to play at the major league level and his #s translated…p.s.and if his on base and batting avgs were any better..he would be amongst the best in baseball…which he will be anyway!!!

  24. ray-ray says:

    Lets not forget that these guys get payed to play this game,and this guy is 3 to 4 years away from serious money..imagine how motivated this guy will be putting up all-star #s and making just 1.2 mil..and lets not take this guys bat speed away at 32 or 33 years old..its all moot anyway,texas could’nt possibly be THIS dumb!!!

    • Zack says:

      Dont you think all guys want money? Too bad players have limitations in their abilities, not everyone can go out and be an All-Star, regardless of how much time they spend working out and studying video.

      • Steve H says:

        Though everyone can be an All-Star in the NFL, see Vince Young and David Garrard.

      • ray-ray says:

        The only problem is this guy IS an all-star.First time out of the shoot too!!

        • Zack says:

          Sorry, we have different definitions of “All Stars.” I dont define it on who gets voted into an exhibition game by players and fans based on 1/2 year stats. I define it as being an elite player at your position

          • ray-ray says:

            please zach,name me another american league left fielder who had cruz’s numbers at the break last year..and please dont say jason bay who has a fraction of this guys athletisism and just signed for 66mil!!!

            • ray-ray says:

              I’m sorry,but your definition of an all-star more aptly describes that of an hall of famer.If your trying to say that the all-star team does not always represent the best players…i agree.However crawford,who did not have spectacular numbers at the break,is the only guy that might have been a better choice…but cruz DEFINITELY earned the right to be there!!

  25. ray-ray says:

    steve..texas played what..36 road games in oakland and seattle and he still managed a .778 ops in his first real taste…how will his #s translate in fenway,camden yards and n.y…i obviously love the guys upside..if guy got a shot in april 07′ like he should have..we’d be giving up montero plus…

    • Steve H says:

      heh. I give up. You’re lack of using the reply button has pushed me to the ledge. Mentioning Montero’s name in this post has driven me way, way over it.

  26. ray-ray says:

    sorry…make that 18 road games…still alot!!!

  27. T says:

    Let’s see, Cruz hit 33 HR last year, all of which would have been HRs at the Stadium, he’s a plus corner OF, he’s dirt cheap and we don’t want him because his home road splits are bad on a laughably small sample size? Personally, I’d trade any of our minor leaguers outside of Montero for him – I’d trade whichever of Joba or Phil doesn’t make the rotation for him.

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