Choo signing likely signals goodbye for Nelson Cruz


Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

When the Texas Rangers landed their big free agent fish of the 2013 offseason on Dec. 21 – signing outfielder Shin-Soo Choo to a seven-year, $130 million contract – it spelled the likely end of Nelson Cruz’s tenure as a Ranger.

Nelson Cruz was considered by many to be the fallback plan for the team this offseason, just in case Shin-Soo Choo decided to sign elsewhere.  While there are a few grumblings regarding Nelson Cruz returning to Texas as the primary designated hitter, it appears the team is prepared to move on.

Mitch Moreland, currently slated as the team’s primary DH, would have to be moved in order for that scenario to play out.  There indeed have been some inquiries from other teams around the league regarding a trade for Moreland; however, in looking at general manger Jon Daniels’ recent trade trends, it appears he is reluctant to swing a deal like that without having someone already in place to fill the departed player’s role.  Moreland is under team control for three more seasons, and 2014 will be his first arbitration-eligible year.

Crazier things have happened, however, as we saw the Rangers deal Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers for Prince Fielder earlier this off-season.

That puts the Seattle Mariners in the forefront as favorites to land Nelson Cruz, although Seattle Times reporter Ryan Divish reported a rumor that stated Cruz has already turned down a five-year, $75 million contract offer from the M’s (that was prior to the Rangers signing Choo, however).  Seattle has already inked Cruz’s close friend, Robinson Cano, to a 10-year, $240 million contract this off-season.

The Baltimore Orioles are also said to be interested in the 33-year-old’s services.

Nelson Cruz was acquired by the Rangers via trade with the Milwaukee Brewers at the trade deadline in 2006.  Texas sent fan favorite Kevin Mench, Francisco Cordero, Laynce Nix and Julian Cordero to Milwaukee for he and outfielder Carlos Lee.

He was considered a late bloomer at the big league level, as things didn’t click for him until the end of the 2008 season, when he hit .330 with seven home runs and 26 RBI in 31 games.  He started the 2009 season as the Rangers’ opening day right fielder and it stayed that way until his 50-game suspension for PED use at the end of the 2013 season.

Nelson Cruz will more than likely always be remembered for two things:  his 50-game suspension in 2013 and failing to catch a deep fly ball off the bat of David Freese in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series.  Because of that missed fly ball, people have already forgotten that the Rangers wouldn’t even be in that position without him.

Some people seem to discard the impact Cruz and his “boomstick” had on the Detroit Tigers in that year’s ALCS.  Nelly flat out tore the cover off the baseball, hitting .364 with six home runs and 13 RBI – the six home runs are an MLB record for a single postseason series.

He added two more home runs in the World Series that same year, one to put the Rangers up 6-4 in the top of the 7th inning in that fateful Game 6 that saw the Rangers get one out away from winning the title – twice.