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A's a dark horse for Nelson Cruz; Mariners, Mets, Phillies also in

ORLANDO, Fla. -- There's a surprise entry in the Nelson Cruz sweepstakes, and it's the Oakland A's.

The Mariners, Mets and Phillies are among other teams in pursuit of Cruz, who hit 27 home runs in a suspension-shortened season.

A's general manager Billy Beane likes to pick his spots for the big play, and Cruz is apparently a player Beane likes from Cruz's early days in the A's organization.

The small-market A's, who have severe stadium problems, could end up with an issue about the dollars and years in the end. Oakland also does not like to surrender a draft choice, which they would have to do in this case should they sign Cruz.

Oakland has been looking for a right-handed-hitting outfielder after declining to pick up the option on Chris Young, but this would be a much bigger splash than anyone anticipated. Beane is known for putting together competitive to excellent teams on a shoestring, but he occasionally tries to step into deep waters, like when he offered Adrian Beltre $65 million for five years out of the blocks before the Rangers signed Beltre for $80 million for five (with a vesting option that should take it to $96 million).

Beane traded Jorge Velandia for Cruz in 2000, then four years later sent Cruz away for Keith Ginter. Cruz has proven to be much more valuable than that now.

Cruz also has drawn interest from the Mariners, who desperately need offense, as Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reported.

The Phillies have been talking to Cruz, but it'll be interesting to see if their signing of Marlon Byrd for $16 million over two years ends that talk.

The Mets also have Cruz on their list, according to sources.

Cruz had 76 RBI and hit .266 in a season shortened by 50 games by his Biogenesis suspension.

 
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