Who Needs Draft Picks When You Have Cruz?
By Mike Franz
Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports
Friday marks the first day of the 2014 MLB Draft. On Friday, ball clubs will be selecting players who they hope will be future stars for them in the coming years.
However, unlike the majority of teams, the Baltimore Orioles will not have a pick in the first round. In fact, their first pick will not be until Saturday, June 7th. This is because of the offseason transactions the Orioles made this past winter.
On February 17th, the Orioles came to terms with Ubaldo Jimenez on a four-year contract worth $50 million. Because he rejected a qualifying offer from his 2013 team, the Indians; the Orioles were also required to give up their first round draft pick, 17th overall.
There were four other “big name” free agents this past offseason that had the same draft pick compensation “clause” to their names. One of these four big names was Nelson Cruz.
Just several days after signing Jimenez, the Orioles made even more noise in the baseball community when the organization signed Cruz to a one-year deal worth $8 million. Yet again, in order to land Cruz, they had to give up their next highest draft pick which came in the second round, 55th overall.
The Orioles lost their first and second round 2014 Draft picks when they acquired Jimenez and Cruz
In addition to surrendering their first and second round picks, the Orioles also had to give up their Competitive Balance pick to the Astros in a deal last season that landed Bud Norris in a Baltimore uniform.
Now the Orioles first pick in the 2014 MLB Draft will come in the third round with the 90th overall pick. Baltimore’s options will be limited with this pick as almost all of the top talent will be gone in earlier rounds. The question is: Were these acquisitions in the offseason worth giving up the draft picks?
Jimenez currently has a 2-6 record in 11 starts and also is posting a 4.65 ERA. Jimenez is known for being a “warm weather” pitcher. This would explain his slow start. As the temperature started to rise so did his pitching performance.
In early May, Jimenez had three straight solid outings against the Twins, Rays, and Tigers. In those three games combined, he only gave up one run and struck out a combined 20 batters. And if it were not for Tommy Hunter‘s blunder in the ninth inning of the Tigers game, Jimenez would have picked up his third win of the year. Hopefully, for the Orioles’ sake, lightning strikes twice for Jimenez and he ends the years with countless dominant outings like last year.
Cruz has not only exceeded expectations, but he is also well worth a second round pick. Currently, Cruz is batting .314/.384/.672.
Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
There was much speculation over his ability to hit the long ball after he was suspended for 50 games last season because of the Biogenesis scandal. Cruz silenced all the doubters by starting off this season red hot. He is leading the Majors with 20 home runs and 52 RBI’s, and he is on pace to surpass Chris Davis‘ 53 home runs of last season.
Cruz was finally awarded for his outstanding performance by being named this week’s American League Player of the Week.
With an offense that has been struggling throughout the 2014 campaign, Cruz has been the linchpin holding the team together. Being the most reliable hitter in the Orioles’ line up on any given day, it gives fans great pride to chant “CRUZZZZZZZZZZZZZ” when he steps into the batter’s box. Ask any Orioles fan and they will tell you Cruz is worth way more to this team than any first or second round draft pick would have been.