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)
Nelson Cruz in the 2011 American League Championship Series — it doesn't get much better than that.
Cruz's run through the Detroit Tigers that season will go down in the history books as one of the great playoff stretches of all-time as he hit six home runs and drove in 13 runs in a six-game series victory. Not a bad thing to have as your lasting memory on a franchise.
But heading into 2013 and coming off the overall disappointment of 2012, the Rangers might be making their future plans without the slugger known for his tape-measure shots and infectious smile.
Cruz is coming off a disappointing season of his own, within the Rangers' disappointing year, as he hit .260 with 24 home runs and 90 RBIs while playing in a career-high 159 games. True, he had a career-high in RBIs, but he also played in 31 more games than he ever had and eclipsed his previous high by three.
He also had four errors in the outfield and many more head-scratching miscues that technically weren't errors where he took bad angles on balls or just found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, like he did in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series.
Cruz is owed $10.5 million in 2013, more than double his 2012 salary as his contract was back-loaded to the final year of his deal. It's pretty unlikely someone would want to pick that up on the 32-year-old, but if someone wanted to, the Rangers would definitely be in discussions.
Cruz has had a long history of quad and hamstring tightness, which has caused numerous DL stints throughout his career (minus 2012) but he has been productive when healthy for the most part and has proven to be one of the streakiest players in baseball — both hot and cold.
It's unlikely the Rangers are able to move Cruz this winter, unless it's a part of a package with much more appealing pieces than himself, but don't be shocked if it happens. The Rangers have an outfield crowded with folks who are in the Rangers' plans, probably moreso than Cruz.