ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 27: Nelson Cruz #17 of the Texas Rangers watches the ball after hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning during Game Six of the MLB World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on October 27, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Remember Chris Davis?
Sure you do, he was the hard-hitting, young phenom that set the league on fire in less than half a season after being called up by the Texas Rangers. A few years later, he was shipped out to Baltimore, labeled as a "Four-A" player, or someone who is an awesome Triple-A guy but can't quite hack it in the majors. They are a rare breed.
But at one time, Nelson Cruz had the same label.
And on Thursday, the Rangers avoided arbitration with the 31-year-old slugger by giving him a two-year deal worth $16 million plus $500,000 in incentives. The Rangers haven't taken a player to arbitration since 2000 and now have only Mike Napoli remaining to get locked up as they've done so with Cruz and Elvis Andrus in the past two days.
Cruz has come quite a way since being acquired from Milwaukee along with Carlos Lee for reliever Francisco Cordero back in 2006. Back then, he had the same label Davis had, but he fought through it and now is a very wealthy man.
Since becoming a full-time major leaguer in 2009, Cruz has averaged 28 home runs and 80 RBIs while hitting in the .260s with the exception of 2010, when he had a positively outlying .318 average. He was the ALCS MVP in 2011 when he set a postseason record with six home runs and 13 RBIs in the six-game series.
The main knock on Cruz has been his durability, as he's pretty much a guarantee to spend at least two stints on the disabled list per season with his faulty quads and hamstrings. But when he's healthy, he's an integral part of the Rangers' lineup.