|Tuesday, January 28
Updated: March 13, 4:01 PM ET
Giants fill hole in right field with free agent
Cruz, who hit .245 with 18 homers and 70 RBI for the Toronto Blue Jays last season, will get $2.5 million in 2003 and has a mutual option with the Giants for 2004 at $4 million. If San Francisco declines the option, Cruz would get a $300,000 buyout.
"It's been no secret that we've admired Jose's ability for the last few years," general manager Brian Sabean said. "We're extremely excited to add a player of his caliber, who can hit for power and steal a base while playing outstanding defense."
Cruz, 28, a switch-hitter, hit 34 homers and stole 32 bases for Toronto in 2001. He has a .251 batting average in seven major league seasons, with 134 homers, 389 RBI and 86 stolen bases in 747 games.
"From the first day, San Francisco has always been at the top of my list," Cruz said. "They've always been, 'We want to make a deal' all the time, instead of having deadlines like some other teams were trying to do. ... I was wanting to go to a team that was going to the playoffs and maybe to the World Series, and San Francisco was definitely the team to do that."
Taken by Seattle with the third overall pick in the 1995 amateur draft, Cruz is the son of former All-Star Jose Cruz. The younger Cruz started 118 games for the Blue Jays last season -- including 52 in left field, 46 in right field and 20 in center field -- despite being limited by a sprained left ankle. He had nine outfield assists and a .992 fielding percentage, with two errors in 266 total chances.
Cruz, who finished second in the 1997 AL Rookie of the Year balloting to Boston's Nomar Garciaparra, is a native of Arroyo, Puerto Rico, and a product of Rice University.
"That rounds out our ballclub," Giants manager Felipe Alou said. "I was hoping for another offensive weapon to bring the club back to the point where I believe, myself, that we're going to be back in the playoffs and the World Series."