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Orioles make Cruz signing official, set Tuesday morning press conference

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Orioles made their one-year deal, $8 million deal with free-agent slugger Nelson Cruz official on Monday evening.

The club will introduce the 33-year-old Cruz during a Tuesday morning news conference at the Ed Smith Stadium Complex. The news conference is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. and will be broadcast live on MASN.

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In order to make room for Cruz on the club's 40-man roster, the Orioles designated left-handed reliever Chris Jones for assignment.

Cruz will wear No. 23.

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Cruz is the Orioles' third major free-agent signing this spring. Last week, the team signed right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez to a four-year, $50 million deal days after it inked South Korean right-hander Suk-min Yoon to a three-year, $5.575 million contract.

With those moves, the Orioles' estimated Opening Day payroll is approximately $105 millon, the largest in franchise history, and the club has invested $63.575 million in payroll since arriving here in Sarasota.

Cruz was completing the final parts of his physical early Monday and is expected to be a full participant in Tuesday morning's workout.

In signing Cruz, who averaged 26 homers over the past five seasons, the Orioles acquired the middle-of –the-order bat to bolster a power-packed lineup that led the majors with 212 homers.

Cruz is coming off a season in which he served a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal.

The 25-year-old Jones, who was acquired last April from the Atlanta Braves in the Luis Ayala trade, was added to the 40-man this offseason to protect him from December's Rule 5 draft.

Jones was 4-4 with a 2.67 ERA in 70 2/3 innings at Triple-A Norfolk, holding left-handed batters to a .196 batting average last season.

Orioles first-base coach Wayne Kirby was previously wearing No. 23, but will give his number to Cruz. Kirby's new number will be determined on Tuesday.

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