Cruz quickly became a fan favorite for Oriole fans, as his mammoth home runs led to a league-leading total of 40 for the season and helped propel the Orioles into the playoffs. He also hit .271 on the year, which was his second best batting average in his 10-year career.
So with Cruz officially gone, Baltimore’s front office will have to find a replacement in home runs. The team is also struggling to re-sign right fielder Nick Markakis and his departure would create even more holes in the team.
Some of the names the Orioles have been connected with are free agent outfielders Torii Hunter and Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp. Hunter has already narrowed his list down to four teams, with the Orioles included, and Kemp could come cheap because of the Dodger’s crowded outfield situation.
Another name linked to Baltimore is outfielder Melky Cabrera. He already stated he does not want to return to Toronto and Baltimore could be inclined to make a move to bring him in.
Hunter is the most likely to sign with Baltimore because of how cheap he will come. MASN’s Roch Kubatko already reported that the team wouldn’t go higher than a one-year deal for Hunter, meaning he could sign here for around $8 million. Does that deal sound familiar? Hunter won’t bring the power that Cruz had, but he has batted .301 in his last three seasons in Detroit. He’d provide a solid No. 2 hitter and would bring a lot of balance at the top of the lineup.
Kemp is interesting name as well, because the Orioles could choose to bring him in even if they sign Hunter too. The Dodgers have a plethora of outfielders and with Kemp signed to a huge contract, they’d ship him in a heartbeat for the right deal. It remains to be seen what the Dodgers want, but the Orioles have a few pieces that they could move, including pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez, Tommy Hunter and Bud Norris. Kemp has been injury-prone most of his career, but came back last season healthy and hit .287.
Cabrera is the least likely to come here because of the deal he’d demand, but it’s still an idea. He managed to hit .301 last season and would be a good leadoff hitter for the team. His contract demands seem a little high, but if they come down a bit than the Orioles could be intrigued.
It’s sad for fans to see Cruz go, but he managed to get a four-deal that the Orioles were never going to give him. His power will definitely decline in Seattle’s ballpark, but we still wish him the best, as he was a huge part in the team’s playoff run last season.
Cruz leaving gives Baltimore a lot of options to choose from now and moves will likely be made soon.