Why is Nelson Cruz spurning Rangers to officially retire with division rival?

Nelson Cruz's retirement decision definitely feels a bit weird, right?

Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics
Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

It's been over a decade since Nelson Cruz took the field as a Texas Ranger, but he spent more time in Arlington than he did with any other team at the end of a 19-year career. His eight-year tenure with the Rangers got him his first All-Star appearance, a second-place finish in the 2009 Home Run Derby, and an AL Championship in 2011.

Cruz turned down the qualifying offer extended to him by the Rangers at the end of the 2013 season and became a free agent before signing with the Orioles for a year. He rejected the qualifying offer again and went to the Mariners for four years, leaving in 2018 to hop around to four more teams before announcing his retirement at the end of 2023. He promptly took a job in the Dodgers' front office, despite never playing for them.

On Thursday night, one of eight teams Cruz played for announced he'd be signing a one-day contract and officially retiring under their banner, but it wasn't the Rangers, but instead was the Mariners.

Former Rangers All-Star Nelson Cruz is officially retiring as...a Seattle Mariner?

Despite the fact that a QO was offered to him, the end of Cruz's time with the Rangers was marred (at the very least) by a 50-game suspension following evidence that he'd been using performance-enhancing drugs as part of the Biogenesis scandal. He'd said a few years before that he had a gastrointestinal issue, but he was just one of 14 players who got caught up in the scandal that year. Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun were also hit with bans, and Rodriguez's lasted an entire season.

Cruz's departure from Texas didn't seem to be tumultuous and, to be fair, Cruz did have something of a heyday in Seattle. Between 2015 and 2018, he had three All-Star appearances, two Silver Sluggers, and received MVP votes over three of those years.

Still, the Mariners don't necessarily come first to mind when you think about Nelson Cruz. Maybe it has something to do with his team-hopping late in his career, but he spent the better part of a decade with the Rangers and was even very close to winning a World Series with them.

This one might just be destined to confuse us a little. In any case, happy trails to Cruz. Your 2011 ALCS walk-off grand slam will never be forgotten.