Will Orioles' Nelson Cruz be hot free agent this offseason?

Will Orioles' Nelson Cruz be hot free agent this offseason?
July 23, 2014, 8:30 pm
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(Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)

Nelson Cruz was a great buy for the Orioles. At one year and $8 million, Cruz was considered a steal.

He won’t come as cheaply next time.

On Tuesday, mlbtraderumors.com ranked Cruz as the sixth most attractive free agent on next winter’s market.

Cruz enters Wednesday’s game with a .279 average, 28 home runs and 74 RBIs.

He’s gone 10 games without a home run. That’s not unusual for Cruz, who was homerless for 14 games in June.

Cruz is only five homers and 16 RBIs from equaling his career highs in those categories, and that should lead to a big payday.

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Last year, he thought he was headed for a payoff, but teams were apparently scared off by his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.

He turned down a one-year, $14 million qualifying offer from Texas.

Cruz is 34, and his age may work against him this winter. Few players his age hit 30 or more home runs.

The Orioles could extend a qualifying offer to him and if he turns it down as every player did last year, they could receive a draft pick in next year’s draft in return. This year, they lost one each for signing Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez.

NOTES: Suk-min Yoon, who had been on the minor league disabled list with a shoulder injury, has returned with inflammation in his right elbow. Steve Johnson has been activated after missing more than two months with a right shoulder injury.

-Jim Palmer joins his fellow Hall of Famers Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, Brooks and Frank Robinson at the Orioles’ 60th anniversary celebration on Aug. 8.