During the winter, the New York Yankees were looking for a new right fielder, as Curtis Granderson rejected the team's one-year qualifying offer and ended up taking a four-year, $60 million deal with the New York Mets.
There were several interests that the Yankees had; two of which were Carlos Beltran and Nelson Cruz. Cruz was coming off a 50-game suspension from the Biogenesis fallout, but received interest from teams like the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles, plus the Yankees. But the Yankees always had their eyes on Beltran, as he was always one of the more clutch bats and players in the league, especially during the postseason.
Beltran was getting interest from the Kansas City Royals and some even felt that he might return to his old team to finish out his career there, but instead, he took a three-year, $45 million deal from the Yankees in early December, while Cruz remained a free agent well into the winter and ended up signing a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles.
Cruz currently is hitting .295 with 23 home runs and 60 RBI and is currently in the lead to start for the American League in next month's All Star Game as the designated hitter. Beltran though, is hitting just .216 with seven home runs and 23 RBI and has dealt with a nagging elbow injury that has relegated him to designated hitter duties.
The kicker of this? As Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported on Wednesday, Cruz wanted to be a Yankee this winter and likely would have signed if not for Beltran being given the three-year deal to come to the Bronx.
"Ellsbury, meanwhile, has been good, but not better than Brett Gardner, who would be playing center had the Yanks gone with the Cano/Granderson decision. Plus – if you want to drive yourself crazy as a Yankee fan – would the organization, having decided to blow by the luxury-tax threshold, have been the one to sign Nelson Cruz late in free agency for one year in the $8 million range rather than the Orioles (there was a lot of buzz he wanted to be a Yankee)?"
Now, we're not saying that signing Beltran was a mistake, because he can always turn it around at any point and he is much better than a .216 hitter, but passing up on Cruz seems to be a mistake.
However, if the Yankees do so choose to, they can always try to sign Cruz after the season, as he is in Baltimore for just one year and both Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki are free agents after the 2014 season, so if Cruz really wants to play for the Yankees like he wanted to this past winter, he'll have the chance at it again come free agency.
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