With Cruz to O's, Moreland in line to DH for Rangers
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Mitch Moreland can relax. Nelson Cruz is not returning to the Rangers and taking his spot at designated hitter.
Instead, Cruz has agreed to a one-year, $8 million contract with the Orioles. The Rangers had been keeping in touch with Cruz's agent, Adam Katz, but were already stretching the limits of their payroll after adding Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo this offseason.
"We viewed him as a fit, but we couldn't pull off the deal," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "They're getting a power bat and a guy who drives in big runs. They're getting a guy who loves to play baseball. They're getting his power in that small ballpark. He's a tremendous teammate. All the qualities you want in a winner, that's Nelson."
Moreland has been the Rangers' first baseman the past three years but lost that job when they acquired Fielder from the Tigers. Right now he is the primary candidate to be the designated hitter. He might have lost that job as well if the Rangers had landed Cruz.
"I'm hoping for the best for Nellie," Moreland said. "I don't know anything about it. I'm just going out and playing today and trying to get better. Nellie is a great teammate. Every team out there would like to have a guy like that in their clubhouse or in the middle of the lineup."
While Moreland could get most of the at-bats at designated hitter, Washington will also use the position to rotate some of his veterans like Fielder, Choo, Adrian Beltre and Alex Rios. Washington will also look for a right-handed hitter who can DH. Michael Choice is one possibility, although Washington is reluctant to use a young player in that position.
Kevin Kouzmanoff is in camp as a non-roster invitee. Kouzmanoff, 32, was the starting third baseman for the Padres from 2007-09 and the Athletics in 2010. During that four-year period, he hit .259 with 75 home runs and 317 RBIs. But his career has dropped off the past three years due to injuries and lack of production.
"He's a veteran who has been through the wars," Washington said. "We'll see what kind of game he has."