When the Texas Rangers signed Shin-Soo Choo and assigned him No. 17, it seemed Nelson Cruz's chances of coming back for a short-term deal with the Rangers were officially dead. You can't have NC-17 without the No. 17, obviously.
But wait, maybe Cruz could be heading back to Arlington, after all.
Cruz's market is dwindling in a hurry, and his expectations of getting or a four-year deal, much less a $75 million one are definitely out the window. You'd have to think at this point that the longest deal Cruz will get from anyone would be two years, but it seems as though the market has pretty much regressed to a one-year deal for the slugging outfielder/DH who was popped for PED usage and was suspended for the final 50 games of the regular season last year.
Cruz was a fan favorite and had a career year going before being slapped with the 50-game ban, and the Rangers seemed to be pretty OK with letting him walk after he turned down their one-year qualifying offer for $14.1 million. Now, he's surely regretting that decision.
The Rangers will acquire a draft pick from any club that signs Cruz to free agency, which makes him even less appealing to other clubs, and reports suggest the Rangers haven't ruled out bringing back Cruz on a club-friendly deal.
"I've had a lot of discussions with Adam Katz, his agent," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik told MLB.com. "There's an economic factor tied to that, as well as losing your Draft pick. Would I like to have him here? Absolutely. I'd love to have Nelson Cruz in this lineup. But how much do you have to pay him, how many years is it going to be and are you willing to lose another Draft pick? Those are the things you have to factor."
If the Rangers were to sign Cruz it would primarily as a designated hitter as the outfield is set with Choo, Leonys Martin and Alex Rios from left to right with Michael Choice likely in as the fourth outfielder and Mitch Moreland mixing in in right field when he isn't DHing. So if Cruz is brought back, Moreland's days would surely be numbered in Texas, as the club could flip him for pitching depth.
It'll be interesting to see how things play out, but we're now just weeks from spring training and Cruz is still wondering where he'll be at that time.