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Cruz's Return Getting Less Likely

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Cruz's Return Getting Less Likely

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ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 17: Nelson Cruz #17 of the Texas Rangers rounds third base after hitting a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on June 17, 2013 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Who would've ever thought the Philadelphia Phillies' signing of former Rangers outfielder Marlon Byrd would send such shockwaves through the Texas Rangers' winter plans?

Byrd signed a two-year deal for $16 million on Tuesday, coming off a career season in his mid-30s, as he split time between the New York Mets and the Pittsburgh Pirates. So how does that affect the Rangers, you might ask? Well, they weren't going to sign him, but that signing drives free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz's value most likely out of the Rangers' range.

Cruz declined the Rangers' qualifying offer of $14.1 million on Monday, meaning Cruz is officially a free agent testing the market. It also means if another club signs Cruz, the Rangers will receive compensation in the form of a first-round draft pick. You got the feeling the Rangers had hoped that would happen all along, and if guys like Marlon Byrd are getting that kind of money, you have to believe the Rangers are out of the Cruz sweepstakes.

Cruz hit .266 with 27 home runs and 76 RBIs, despite missing the final 50 games of the regular season after being popped with a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal. He was on his way to a career season of his own, and still finished second on the Rangers in homers behind Adrian Beltre.

We'd thought the Rangers' ceiling on a potential deal for Cruz would be somewhere in the neighborhood of two years for $20 million, which was probably not going to happen in the first place. But after Byrd set the market for outfielders on Tuesday, that definitely won't happen.

It's been real, Boomstick. Adios.

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