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Nelson Cruz and Kendrys Morales are looking for big money this offseason. Morales rejected the Seattle Mariners qualifying offer and is seeking three to four years at 15 million per. On the other hand, Cruz is supposedly looking for four years and 75 million. The Seattle Mariners have been linked to both players.

At first glance, those dollar amounts look ridiculous.  Cruz has a career .268/.327/.495 line with a 114 wRC+.  The Texas Rangers outfielder is 33 years old and has amassed 3.9 fWAR the past three seasons. Morales has a career .280/.333/.480 line and a 117 wRC+. The Seattle Mariners first baseman and designated hitter is 30 years old and has 4.1 fWAR over the last three seasons.

Overall, Cruz and Morales are very similar players. Both are bat-only players. While Morales is three years younger, he’s spends most of his time at designated hitter. Theoretically, Cruz can play the outfield.  Both are very poor baserunners. Steamer projects Cruz for a .260/.322/.478 line with a 113 wRC+ and 1.6 fWAR. Meanwhile, Morales projects for a .268/.330/.456 line with a 115 wRC+ and 1.7 fWAR.

Let’s dig a little deeper. How have players with similar skills sets aged? Here’s a list of of players that have managed a wRC+ between 110 and 120 with an ISO of at least .190 through their age-32 seasons. Data goes back to 1990 and is limited to first basemen, corner outfielders, and designated hitters. These are bat-first power hitters which don’t reach base too frequently.

Paul KonerkoTino MartinezCarlos LeePat BurrellEric KarrosJermaine DyeGeoff JenkinsTony ClarkDante BichetteJayson WerthRyan Ludwick

Of those names, not many aged well. Except for his disastrous 2013 farewell season, Konerko was strong in his later years. Tino had some productive years and hung around for a while. Werth has had trouble staying healthy the last couple of seasons, but he’s mashed to the tune of a 147 wRC+ when he’s in the lineup. Other than that, it’s pretty ugly. For Konerko’s 8.2 fWAR after his age-32 season, there was Jermaine Dye with -0.3 fWAR. Below are the averages for the 11 players in the group.

Through age 32: 114 wRC+, 17.1 fWAR. After age-32: 109 wRC+, 3.1 fWAR.

Texas Rangers v Boston Red SoxBat-first guys without high on-base percentages don’t age too well. Plenty of ink has been spilled about the risks of signing Jacoby Ellsbury, a speed-reliant player, to a long-term deal. Generally speaking, that type of player has held up pretty well. Perhaps the real concerns should center around signing plodding sluggers to multi-year deals.

Right now, the price of a win is looking to be around $6-7 million this offseason. To live up to a contract with an average annual value (AAV) of $18-19 million, Cruz would have to average 3.0 fWAR per year. Morales would have to average 2.5 fWAR per year to live up to a contract with a $15 million AAV.

Looking at the aging curves for players with their skill sets, it’s more likely that they accumulate 3 fWAR over the remainder of their playing careers. Don’t be fooled by the home runs, anything more than a two or three-year commitment with an AAV higher than $8-10 million is an overpay for either Cruz or Morales.


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    Cruz doesn’t light my fire, I’d prefer Morales but I’d wait and see how cheap he becomes. Hart and Napoli look like reasonable risk/reward options for 1B/DH. Ellsbury or Choo are needed or if they get Tanaka trade one of Walker/Paxton and bits like Franklin, Maurer, Capps,etc for an OF right handed bat with some team control. We need rotation arms for depth, guys like Arroyo, Colon, Garza, Kazmir, Carpenter, Roberto Hernandez (aka Fausto Carmona) and Suk-Min Yoon out of Korea. Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana are asking for more than they are worth IMO. I could live with Raul or Morse as a bench bat only and Guti would be worth a low bet incentive based deal. He could get healthy before his career is over. Brett Anderson could be available from the A’s in trade for his age -26 season.

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    You know I think Ubaldo Jimenez may be my favourite SP available. Out of Santana, Garza and Ubaldo I think he may be the cheapest and potentially the better long term investment. I would be very excited by a front four of Felix, Iwakuma, Jimenez and Walker… As for the OF, I hate the thought of Cruz, if we did that it would be a huge waste. I would rather over pay on Hart and get him as a power rightie, admittedly he is probably better suited now to 1B. I think we should be able to get Ellsbury or maybe Choo. Then we trade a SP, prospect and Franklin for the best available RH OFer we can get.

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    He spent part of 2011 and 2012 with the Indians and performed poorly. The second half of 2013 really upped his stock. 3yrs 42 million sounds about right.

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    Thanks Chris, this was his first year outside of Coors Field too. Would you give him 3 years 42 million?

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    Ubaldo has great upside, and along with Anibal Sanchez, he was the best pitcher in baseball since the All-Star break. Still, he’s experienced a big velocity drop over the last three years. It looks like he’s learning to use his secondary pitches more frequently, and he got his groundball rate back up in 2013. If you’re interested, I wrote a more complete analysis of Ubaldo a while back.


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    I hope the Cruz rumors last week are meaningless. Better no move than a bad move for the sake of making a move. I would rather go with Saunders, Almonte and Romero then to mess with Cruz.

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    I don’t get all the fuss about Nelsen Cruz??? The guy’s power numbers are not going to translate from hitter friendly Arlington, TX to Safeco Field. He strikes out a ton and does not hit for average. He also provides little to no value in the field (didn’t we have enough lousy outfielders playing out of position last year?). Combine these factors with the fact that he is a known PED user coming off suspension and his contract demands and I just don’t see it. Please tell me Jack Z is not this desperate to sign someone!

    I think with patience we get Morales back on a 2 or 3 year deal for modest money.

    I am still curious to see how this offseason plays out for Seattle. They have so much money available to spend, but the players out there just don’t excite me all that much. I would love to see them sign Tanaka, but we don’t even know if he is going to be posted this year, and if he is, teams like the Yankees or Dodgers might throw crazy money his way.
    What are your thoughts on signing a pitcher like Ubaldo Jimenez? He has had an up and down career, but has a lot of upside. I think in our ballpark he would have a greater chance of reaching that upside. What kind of money would it take to get him? I think they should load up on pitching and maybe look for trades to acquire a couple of bats.
    Cano probably would not come here (unless we gave him 300 million) and does not play a position we need. Ellsbury and Choo are two players I like, but not on a 7 year deal. A 5 year deal and slight overpay would work for me on them, but I don’t think that gets it done.

    Bottom line is the team has money, and needs to fill out its roster. The free agent class is not exciting, but will be even worse next year.

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    Thanks. I’d probably side with Jerry and pass on them both. But, if either would take something around 2 years with $8 million AAV, I’d bite. However, there’s almost no chance either of them are taking that. Let them be someone else’s mistake.

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    No thanks on either.

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    Very thought provoking. Well done! If I was forced to pick between Morales and Cruz, I’d select Morales because the Ms already know what he brings to the clubhouse and the line up.

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