The Texas Rangers bought out Nelson Cruz’s final two arbitration years today, inking the outfielder to a two year, $16 million deal.
When healthy, the 31 year-old Cruz has been a masher for Texas. But injuries have been an issue for him, and his career high in plate appearances over three full seasons with the Rangers is just 515. Cruz has accrued 10.0 fWAR over those three years, and is an above average fielder in right, logging +24 DRS over the last three seasons. The righty has excellent power, with a career ISO of .233, and decent speed, stealing 46 bases over the last three years. His stolen base total has declined each season since 2009 though.
At his peak, Cruz is probably about a .280/.340/.510 player, but BABIP fluctuation has resulted in those numbers going all across the board. As his prime comes to and end, he’s probably out of line for a big payday unless he has monster seasons in 2012 and 2013. The signing will likely push Texas’s payroll above $100 million for 2012, with Mike Napoli and the king of trade rumors Koji Uehara still eligible for arbitration. Texas may be getting close to a minor rebuilding phase, with Cruz and Michael Young entering free agency after 2013, and Josh Hamilton eligible after this season. Ian Kinsler has an option for 2013 on his contract, and will be eligible after that. With so many stars scheduled to depart the Big D, Texas’s window may be closing very soon.