Cruz broke out during his short stint in 2008, hitting seven home runs in just 133 at-bats. He followed this strong showing by slugging 33 home runs in only 515 at-bats in 2009. Since 2008 he has been a mainstay in the Rangers lineup and a looming presence behind Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre.
Cruz has hit more than 20 home runs for four straight seasons and has been a steady source of production for the Rangers.
2012 was the first season that the slugger has played in more than 150 games in his career. Cruz will turn 33 this coming season and will likely command upwards of $15 million a year.
That's a big price to pay for an aging power hitter with injury concerns.
Cruz will be a key member of the Rangers lineup in 2013 with the losses of Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Mike Napoli. But after the 2013 season the Rangers need to thank Cruz for his services and move on.
The Rangers appear to be trying to get younger by letting some of the aforementioned players walk. I'm sure they are also looking ahead to the winter of 2014 when the free-agent crop will be much deeper than what we saw this offseason.
Which is another major reason—aside from money, age and injury concerns—to let Cruz go.
The 2014 offseason will feature Hunter Pence, Jacoby Ellsbury, Curtis Granderson, Shin-Soo Choo, Mike Morse and Corey Hart, to name a few.
Some of these players are in the same age bracket as Cruz but have not had the injury history.
Nelson Cruz will be a legitimate force in the Rangers lineup this season.
He will likely bat in a very prominent spot in the lineup, possibly at cleanup. He will be asked to produce home runs as he has been over the past four seasons, as well as being asked to pick up the RBI slack left by Hamilton's and Napoli's departure.
Cruz has never had more than 90 RBI in a season, so making the jump to more than 100 could be a challenge. However, his lower than expected RBI could be attributed to the guys in front of him clearing the bases before he even came to the plate.
Cruz has been a very good player for the Rangers, but starting next season they would benefit from spending their money on someone who stays on the field more consistently.