The 30-year old Juan Cruz joins the Royals after three successful seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the last two of which he pitched exclusively in the bullpen. The 6-foot-2 right-hander was 4-0 with a 2.61 ERA in 57 appearances in 2008. In 51.2 innings, Cruz fanned 71 batters while allowing 34 hits and 31 walks. He posted 12.37 strikeouts per nine innings, leading all NL relievers and ranking second in baseball to Tampa's Grant Balfour (12.65 K/9).
The contract is for $2.25 million this season and $3.25 million in 2010. The
2011 club option is for $4 million for with a $500,000 buyout. Cruz made
$1.94 million last year.
Cruz figured to have been in line for a higher raise than that after two
straight fantastic seasons, but the poor economy, coupled with the
right-hander's classification as a Type-A free agent conspired to drive down
demand for Cruz. That Type-A status means that the Diamondbacks will
receive the Royals' second round draft choice, which will be the 12th pick of
the second round, and a supplemental pick sandwiched between the first and
A veteran of eight major league seasons after making his debut for the Cubs in 2001 as a 23-year old, Cruz has recorded a 29-31 career record with a 4.00 ERA in 297 outings, including 38 starts. He has recorded 535 strikeouts in 515.0 career innings for the Cubs (2001-03), Braves (2004), Athletics (2005), and Diamondbacks (2006-08). Since making his debut in 2001, the right-hander has struck out 9.35 batters per nine innings, the 10th-best ratio in all of baseball.
New teammate Kyle Farnsworth (10.13 K/9) ranks sixth.
Born in Bonao, Dominican Republic, Cruz still resides in his hometown with his wife, Leonarda. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Royals designated infielder Esteban German for assignment.