General manager Jack Zduriencik and the Seattle Mariners aren’t bashful. We’ll give ’em that.

For the second winter in a row, the M’s have reportedly made a major splash in free agency. And for the second winter in a row, they’ve done so by doling out a contract that presents major risk and potentially horrid value at the back half.

Last year, it was a 10-year deal to Robinson Cano, who will make $24 million when he’s 40 years old. Now, it’s reportedly a four-year contract worth $57 million to 34-year-old Nelson Cruz.

Although the deal isn’t yet official, El Caribe, a Dominican Republic newspaper, originally reported the news, and it has been confirmed by several other sources, including Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi:

Not surprisingly, opinions of Seattle’s newest acquisition are about as contrasting as it gets.

Chris Carlin of applauded the deal, while FanGraphs‘ David Cameron lambasted it:

Cameron essentially pointed toward the length of the contract, arguing that Cruz isn’t “expected to produce any value in his age-37 season.” That means he’ll likely have to justify the $57 million in a span of threeor potentially twoyears. For a player who is expected to spend most of his time at DH, that’s a decidedly difficult task.

Nevertheless, risky deal or not, the M’s couldn’t afford to sit back and wait. Already boasting a fantastic pitching staff (Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton, Roenis Elias, Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen) and a stable of talented lefty hitters (Cano, Kyle Seager, Dustin Ackley), Seattle is right on the cusp of contention.

Taking the next step requires adding a right-handed power hitter.

Last year, the Mariners had three left-handed hitters with at least 300 plate appearances and a .400 slugging percentage, while Ackley (542 PA, .398 SLG) and Michael Saunders (263 PA, .450 SLG) were both close.

The amount of right-handed hitters to hit those plateaus? OneMike Zunino, who finished with a .199 batting average.

Many are expecting a regression from Cruz, who hit 40 home runs with the Baltimore Orioles after averaging 27 per season in the previous five years with the Texas Rangers. Even if he does fall back to earth, though, he’s a career .289/.364/.522 hitter against lefties (.261/.316/.493 against righties), representing an obvious upgrade for the M’s.

Moreover, as ESPN Stats & Info illustrated, he’ll do so at the team’s worst position:

Cruz presents risk, sure. But also, his name is not Kendrys Morales or Corey Hart, so he has that going for him.

The Mariners, in an attempt to stop wasting the prime seasons of Hernandez and Cano, are in obvious win-now mode, and inserting Cruz into the middle of the lineup immediately increases their chances of ending a 13-year playoff drought.

Should that happen, it may not matter what he doesor what his paychecks sayin 2017 or ’18.

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