After an uneventful off-season the Baltimore Orioles are making a strong push to contend in the highly competitive AL East. Days after signing Ubaldo Jimenez to a four-year $50 million contract, the O’s have added Nelson Cruz to serve as primary DH and occasionally play LF. Cruz rejected a one-year $14.1 million qualifying offer from Texas and the Orioles will lose another draft pick (55th overall), solidifying Dan Duquette’s win-now strategy.
With The Baltimore core of players (with the exception of Machado and Jones) only locked up for a few more years, the move shows fans that the O’s are serious about winning. I had previously criticized the Orioles inactive off-season, but the additions of Yoon, Jimenez and Cruz have made the Orioles legitimate contenders in 2014. Baltimore has maximized Cruz’s value by taking him out of the outfield. Cruz and his -4.8 career dWAR will be less of a liability with Cruz spending the majority of his time at DH. A lineup including Jones, Davis, Machado, Wieters, Hardy, Markakis, and now Cruz could be very dangerous in the power-friendly confines of Camden Yards.