Coming off the best season of his MLB career, power-hitting outfielder Nelson Cruz is now in line to net the biggest contract of his life as well.     

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported what he is hearing about Cruz’s next potential deal:

Free-agent slugger Nelson Cruz turned out to be the biggest free-agent bargain in baseball when he hit an MLB-high 40 home runs after signing a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles. Now word is, Cruz is very much hoping not to be that sort of a bargain again.

Cruz is seeking a four-year deal at big bucks, according to league sources.

The Orioles, the beneficiary of that great deal last spring, were said to have signalled in talks with Cruz a willingness to give Cruz at least a two-year deal at a big raise in addition to extending the $15.3 million qualifying offer for 2015. However, there’s no indication they are ready to do a four-year deal with the 34-year-old slugger, so it appears Cruz will have to shop around.

Cruz had trouble finding a desirable contract last offseason on the heels of a 50-game suspension for violating the league’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs as a member of the Texas Rangers. With that in mind, he ultimately settled on a one-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles.

The 34-year-old star redeemed himself in a major way as he hit .271 with a career-high 40 home runs and 108 RBI in 159 games for the O’s. Cruz was a stalwart in the middle of Baltimore’s lineup and perhaps the biggest reason why it was able to win the AL East and advance to the American League Championship Series.

Following Baltimore’s ouster from the playoffs, Cruz made it clear how much he enjoyed his time as an Oriole:

Whether that was a farewell message remains to be seen, but there is clearly mutual interest from both sides in hammering out a deal. According to Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun, Cruz’s favorable experience with the Orioles could be beneficial to the organization in its pursuit of him:

At the same time, Roch Kubatko of is unsure if the O’s are willing to give the slugger a long-term, big-money contract:

There is no question that Cruz earned a megadeal after having such a huge season in 2014. Someone is undoubtedly going to give it to him, and Cruz’s comments suggest that he is hopeful Baltimore will emerge in that regard.

Orioles general manager Dan Duquette acknowledged Cruz’s importance to the team, but he also remained coy about the organization’s intentions regarding a potential long-term contract, per Luke Jones of

It’s good to know that Nelson likes it here. I can tell just by watching him, he’s the leader of the ball club, and the young players look up to him, especially the young Latin players. He’s an excellent leader, he’s a very good role model, he led the league in home runs, and he had a great year. I really appreciate the veteran leadership that he gave the team. … Having said that, he came here to have a platform year to get himself re-established so he could get a long-term deal, and that’s something that we’ll have to consider.

With Cruz’s PED issues behind him, Cruz is playing better than ever and his status as a clutch playoff performer will bolster his stock as well.

The Dominican stud has career statistics of a .292 average, 16 homers and 34 RBI in 41 career postseason games. Even though the O’s fell short of the World Series, he still managed to hit .357 with two home runs and seven RBI in two series.

MLB teams are always looking for power hitters who can also maintain a respectable batting average, but Cruz’s playoff excellence essentially pushes his value through the roof.

The Orioles displayed great foresight in signing him last offseason, but they’ll have to pony up in order to keep him. If they aren’t willing to, then a long list of other teams certainly will be.


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