Will Nelson Cruz return in 2014


July 13, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Texas Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz (17) is congratulated by teammates after scoring fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the World Series is over, it is now time for the Texas Rangers to start making some decisions.   It was reported on October 31, that the Rangers plan to make a qualifying offer to Nelson Cruz.  The offer will be a one year deal worth $14.1 million.

"“It’s a relatively easy decision,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “We’d be happy to have him back on a one-year deal. And we’re not prohibited from continuing to talk to him while he sees what the market is. If he signs elsewhere, we get a draft pick that helps us as well.” (Evan Grant – Dallas Morning News)"

But should the Rangers re-sign him?  Giving him the qualifying offer does at least ensure they will do one of two things.  That they will re-sign him for a one year deal or two, if he declines and signs with another team, the Texas Rangers will receive that team’s top draft pick.  Read more here about the qualifying offer rules.

While Cruz has had a lot of success while he has been in Texas, he has had his bumps along the way.  First, his 50 game suspension during the 2013 season.  Besides for cheating by using a banned substance, may question whether or not he should have appealed it and continued to play to help the Texas Rangers win the division.  It was easy to see that his bat was missed once he started serving his suspension.

Cruz did offer an apology and came clean about his cheating.  Cruz claimed he started using the banned substance after the 2011 World Series to help with an issue he had with his stomach.  A reason many doubted was the actual reason.  But, his teammates were quick to support him after the news.

Aug 30, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz (17) makes a statement to the media apologizing to fans for being suspended before the game against the Minnesota Twins at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

"“He made a mistake and we don’t agree with what he did,” outfielder David Murphy said. “But when you have a track record of being a great teammate and a great person, that speaks a lot. There’s no ill will or any feeling like that. Everything is of love, and like we mentioned before, I think we would all welcome him back.”  (Associated Press)"

Besides for the issue with cheating, are game 6 of the World Series.  He has become the Bill Buckner of the RangersCruz, just like Buckner missed a crucial play in game 6 of the World Series which lead to the loss of game 6 and the team didn’t manage to win game 7.  Since Cruz missed that fly ball out to right, Joe Buck and many other commentators are quick to relive that moment.  During the 2013 World Series during game 6, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver made sure to mention it over and over.  Buckner only made it half way through the 1987 season before the Boston Red Sox out right released him.

Did the Sox want Buckner gone after the ’86 World Series mishap, some would say yes.  Do Rangers fans want Cruz gone because of his game 6 mishap and the drug violation, most might say yes.  Many are upset he didn’t appeal.  He did come back for game 163, but that didn’t go well for Cruz.  He didn’t manage to get any hits that game and his team missed the playoffs, in part because of him.

Cruz has made it a year and half more than Buckner, but I don’t expect him to make it any longer.   Maybe not because of game 6 or the suspension, but he will be seeking a big multi-year contract.   According to Evan Grant, Cruz wants to multi-year deal for about 2-3 years at $15 million per season.

But for Cruz, he might not have a lot of teams knocking his door down to sign him.  The team picking him up will lose a top draft pick, and Cruz has been a defensive liability.  All that combined with game 6 of the World Series and his suspension helps reduce his value and increase the chances the Rangers will re-sign him.

Overall, it appears that there is a good chance the Rangers will sign him to a 2-3 year deal.  Will he get the $15 million he wants?   That depends on who else is interested in him to drive up the price.  Rangers fans seem to be more forgiving than Red Sox fans, so if Nelson Cruz does get re-signed and manages to produce like he has in the past, it will be a good signing for the Rangers.

From 2006 to 2013, Nelson Cruz had a batting line of .268/.327/.495/.823.  He collected 774 hits, 171 doubles, 8 triples, 157 home runs and 489 RBIs over his 2,891 at-bats.  Besides for his 2 all-star game appearances, Nelson Cruz was the 2011 ALCS MVP.  Also, Cruz comes in 10th for the all-time Slugging average for the Texas Rangers.    Cruz has finished in the top 25 in the most home runs for the past 5 years.  In 2012, Cruz finished 4th in the doubles category with 45.

For the 2013 season Nelson Cruz had a batting average of .266/.327/.506/.833.  Despite missing 50 games, his 110 hits, 18 doubles, 27 home runs and 76 RBIs puts him in the top 10 in most categories for the Texas Rangers.  He had the second most RBIs behind Adrian Beltre who had 92.

Stats from baseball-reference.com