Free agent Nelson Cruz and the Baltimore Orioles have reached agreement on a one-year deal, giving the slugger a fresh start after his drug suspension.
A person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press on Saturday that Cruz will earn about $8.5 million, and can make more in performance bonuses.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the contract wasn't complete. Other media outlets had reported a deal was in place.
The 33-year-old Cruz was suspended 50 games last year while with the Texas Rangers as a result of Major League Baseball's investigation into the Biogenesis drug scandal. He returned from the penalty in time to play one game — he went 0 for 4 in the Rangers' loss to Tampa Bay in a tiebreaker for the second AL wild-card spot.
Baltimore began full-squad workouts at spring training earlier this week, and Cruz was among the last prominent free agents to find a team.
Manager Buck Showalter's team opened camp still in need of a designated hitter, preferably someone to join big league home run champion Chris Davis in the lineup. Cruz may well find the cozy dimensions at Camden Yards to his liking — he is a career .333 hitter with two homers and nine RBIs in 81 at-bats at the ballpark.
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