Nelson Cruz isn’t expected to return to the Texas Rangers. The team already has given out Cruz’s old jersey number, 17, to newly signed outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.
It didn’t come as a surprise to Cruz, though, as general manager Jon Daniels called him on Saturday when Choo and the Rangers agreed to a seven-year, $130 million contract.
Daniels reached out to Cruz and thanked him for what he had done for the team and the community the past eight years.
“I’m not going to 100 percent close any doors, but I think realistically his best opportunity may be elsewhere,” Daniels said. “I’m expecting him to sign elsewhere, but we genuinely care about the guy and appreciate what he’s done here.”
The Rangers will receive draft-pick compensation if Cruz signs elsewhere. Cruz turned down the qualifying offer the Rangers made to him early in the off-season.
The Rangers acquired Cruz in a 2006 trade with the Brewers, but he didn’t become a regular in the lineup until 2009. He had a breakout season that year with 33 home runs and was named to his first All-Star team.
Cruz then became one of the Rangers’ best postseason batters during their 2010 and 2011 runs to the World Series. In 2010, he hit .400 in the ALDS and .350 in the ALCS. In 2011, he was named the ALCS MVP after batting .364 with six home runs and 13 RBIs.
Last season, Cruz accepted a 50-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs in the Biogenesis of America scandal.
Rangers co-chairman Bob Simpson doesn’t see a scenario in which the team could make a serious effort to land Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. The Rangers, Simpson said, are “a little bit out of budget” after signing Choo to a $130 million contract and taking on $138 million for Prince Fielder.
“Tanaka would be a tough thing,” Simpson said. “I guess I should never say never, but at the moment we’re more interested in just rounding out our team than marquee players.”
Tanaka has been posted by the Rakuten Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, but he comes with a $20 million fee to sign him.
Simpson went on to say that he believes with the additions of Choo and Fielder that the Rangers are “favorites in the [AL] West.”
Briefly• The club designated first baseman Chris McGuiness for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Choo.
• Daniels said the plan is to go with a platoon at designated hitter, with Mitch Moreland facing right-handers and Michael Choice or another right-handed bat against lefties. A caveat to that, Daniels said, is when manager Ron Washington uses the DH slot to give regulars a “mini” break.