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Report: Orioles, Rangers, Mariners in mix for Nelson Cruz

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer

Where will Nelson Cruz swing his bat next season? (USATSI)
Where will Nelson Cruz swing his bat next season? (USATSI)

MORE: Winter Meetings updates | FA tracker: position players | FA tracker: pitchers

Free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz is of particular interest to the Orioles, Mariners and Rangers, tweets Ken Rosenthal of Rosenthal also reports that Cruz met with the O's on Monday and that further discussions are planned.

Some serious "buyer beware" is in order when it comes to Cruz. Last season, he put up solid numbers: .266/.327/.506 (123 OPS+) with 27 homers before serving a 50-game Biogenesis-related suspension that cost him much of the stretch drive.

However, Cruz is 33 years age, burdened by badly declining range in the outfield and, because of his body type, is not the kind of player who tends to age well. Also, consider the Ranger lifer's career home-road splits: .912 OPS at Arlington, .734 OPS everywhere else. Now, projecting how a player will fare in a new environment is never as simple as looking at his road numbers, but in Cruz's case there's real cause to think he's largely a product of the ballpark in which he's played his home games.

For many reasons, Cruz has serious "free agent bust" potential this offseason, and interested teams should proceed with caution.

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