SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles have agreed to terms on a one-year, $8 million contract with free agent Nelson Cruz, a Major League source confirmed to MLB.com on Saturday.
The deal, pending a physical, was first reported by ESPNDeportes and comes just days after the team made its first major move in signing right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez to a four-year, $50 million deal. Cruz, 33, adds another power bat to Baltimore's lineup, giving the O's a much-needed threat out of the designated-hitter spot. The right-handed-hitting Cruz has at least 22 homers each of the past five seasons and will likely platoon at the designated-hitter role and occasionally play left field. Cruz's contract, like Jimenez, also contains performance incentives.
Cruz was slated to fly in from the Dominican Republic on Saturday and drive up from Miami in the evening to the club's Spring Training complex. A physical is scheduled for either Sunday or early Monday morning.
Since Cruz rejected a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Rangers, the Orioles will lose a draft pick, their 55th overall, in signing him. However, that wasn't seen as a huge obstacle given that Jimenez also had a qualifying offer from the Indians, and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said recently the club would evaluate losing picks on a "case-by-case" basis.
And the case for the Orioles in 2014 is simple, with Duquette acknowledging that the team has a window of success with its current core in place. While the O's also had interest in switch-hitter Kendrys Morales, they weren't keen on his asking price and it's believed Cruz's camp came down recently. Whether it was the rumors of the Orioles after more pitching to trade for a bat, or the nature of how late it is in the offseason, Baltimore picked up steam on Cruz in the past 24 hours and was able to swing a deal that fits within its payroll.
Over a 109-game season last year -- he missed 50 games because of a suspension due to the Biogenesis scandal -- Cruz hit .266 with 27 homers and 76 RBIs. His arrival, which would require a corresponding 40-man roster move, could make it tough for Orioles' DH hopeful Nolan Reimold to get consistent at-bats, and Cruz could also spell left fielder David Lough once in a while. The left-handed-hitting Henry Urrutia is considered the top internal candidate for the other half of DH.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli.