Cruz gave short answers to any Biogenesis-related questions during a news conference Tuesday, a day after the 33-year-out outfielder finalized an $8 million, one-year contract.
Cruz was suspended for 50 games last August for a violation of Major League Baseball’s drug agreement related to the sport’s investigation of the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic.
He was joined at the news conference by eight of his new teammates, including Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters. Markakis said last summer that MLB needed stiffer penalties for violations of the drug rules. On Saturday, Markakis said he still favored tougher penalties but was happy to have Cruz on the Orioles.
“My opinion doesn’t change toward anything. He’s part of this team now and he’s going to be in this clubhouse and we’re going to welcome him just like anybody else. He’s going to be part of this team,” Markakis said.
Cruz hit .266 last year with 27 homers and 76 RBIs in 109 games. The suspension cost him $2,732,240 of his $10 million salary.
He signed with Baltimore more than three months after he turned a down a $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Rangers.
“It was a frustrating process, but I’m happy for the decision that I made. I’m really excited for the opportunity. I like challenges and I think it’s going to be a great challenge for me. Hopefully, I do my best and I look for the World Series,” Cruz said.
Cruz waited until training camps had opened. He’s part of a late spending burst that has seen the orioles commit $63,575,000. Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez agreed to a $50 million, four-year contract and South Korean right-hander Suk-min Yoon received a three-year deal for $5,575,000.
Baltimore lost its first-round draft pick, No. 17 overall, for signing Jimenez, and its second-round selection, No. 55, for signing Cruz.
Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette adopted a strategy of waiting for free agent prices to drop.
“We’ve been steadily putting our team together,” he said. “We signed a couple of pitchers, which we said we were going to do, and we said we were looking for a bat in the middle of our lineup, and Nelson can fill that role. We’re always looking, but I don’t anticipate any players of this caliber soon, but we’re always looking around.”