- Associated Press - Monday, February 24, 2014

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) - Outfielder Nelson Cruz and the Baltimore Orioles have finalized an $8 million, one-year contract, a deal that puts him on track to become the team’s regular designated hitter.

The 33-year-old, who served a 50-game suspension last year for violating baseball’s drug agreement, can earn an additional $750,000 in bonuses based on days on the active 25-man roster: $150,000 each for 60, 90, 120, 150 and180.

He turned down a $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Texas Rangers in November. Because of the qualifying offer, Baltimore forfeits its second-round selection in June’s amateur draft, the 55th pick overall.

Baltimore’s deal with Cruz on Monday follows a $50 million, four-year contract with pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez last Wednesday, a contract that cost the Orioles their first-round draft pick, No. 17 overall. And a week ago, the Orioles signed South Korean right-hander Suk-min Yoon to a three-year contract for $5,575,000, a deal that could escalate to $13,075,000 if the pitcher starts 26 or more games each season.

Cruz hit .266 last season with 27 homers and 76 RBIs in 109 games. The suspension cost him $2,732,240 of his $10 million salary. As part of his new deal, he would earn $50,000 bonuses for making the All-Star team, winning a Gold Glove and being selected MVP of the league championship series or World Series. By March 15, he can submit a list of eight teams he can’t be traded to without his consent.

Cruz has hit at least 22 homers and driven in 75 runs in each of the last five seasons.

To clear a roster spot, Baltimore designated left-hander Chris Jones for assignment.


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