Nelson Cruz: The winding journey of an All-Star slugger

Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz has carved out a incredible profession with a number of completely different groups since he debuted within the majors a decade-and-a-half in the past. As you’ll see beneath, it has been fairly an eventful journey for a participant who has gone from comparatively unheralded prospect to 401-home run hitter with six All-Star nods on his résumé…

Skilled Entry

  • The Dominican Republic native entered the professionals with the Mets, who signed him as an 18-year-old newbie free agent in 1998, however he by no means took an expert at-bat with the franchise.

Prospect Standing

  • Cruz was not a league-wide elite prospect as he climbed his option to the majors. At his greatest, he ranked as Baseball America’s No. eight Brewers prospect in 2006. BA rightly wrote then that Cruz, the Brewers’ minor league participant of the yr, possessed “nicely above common uncooked energy,” although it additionally expressed concern over “holes in his swing.”

Early Profession Trades

  • Within the first of a number of trades Cruz has been concerned in as a professional, the Mets despatched him to the Athletics in August 2000 for infielder Jorge Velandia. Nevertheless, Velandia was a nonentity within the majors for the Mets. He amassed 92 plate appearances with New York throughout three years and stumbled to a .149/.281/.216 line.
  • Just like the Mets earlier than them, the A’s gave up on a younger Cruz, however solely after he spent a number of years of their system. In December 2004, Oakland dealt Cruz and right-hander Justin Lehr to the Brewers for infielder Keith Ginter. Sadly for the A’s, Ginter mustered a weak .161/.234/.263 line over 156 PA in 2005 – his lone season with the membership. As talked about earlier, Cruz was a productive Brewers minor leaguer, although he didn’t get a lot of an opportunity within the majors as a member of Milwaukee. Cruz made eight appearances and totaled seven PA in 2005.

Headed To The Web site Of His Breakout

  • The Brewers traded Cruz and former slugger Carlos Lee to the Rangers for righty Francisco Cordero, lefty Julian Cordero and outfielders Kevin Mench and Laynce Nix in July 2006. Let’s first deal with the non-Cruz items in that swap: Lee was a short-term success as a member of the Rangers, with whom he batted .322/.369/.525 with 9 dwelling runs in 260 PA. The Rangers didn’t make the playoffs, although, and Lee bolted for the Astros’ six-year, $100M contract throughout the ensuing offseason. Francisco Cordero had a really good run in Milwaukee, the place he pitched to a 2.60 ERA with 11.6 Ok/9 and 60 saves in 90 innings from 2006-07. He left the Brewers for the Reds’ four-year, $46M supply, which was then a document for a reliever. Julian Cordero by no means received previous Single-A ball. Mench put up an unimpressive .256/.288/.403 line with 9 HRs in 441 PA as a Brewer from 2006-07, whereas Nix collected a meager 61 PA with the membership in components of three seasons.

Overcoming Adversity

  • In hindsight, as efficient as Lee and Francisco Cordero have been after this commerce, Cruz emerged as probably the most invaluable piece for both workforce. It simply took a number of extra years to lastly occur. Cruz received off to a brutal begin as a Ranger from 2006-07, when he mixed to hit a dismal .231/.279/.384 with 15 HRs in 471 journeys to the plate. Discouraged, the Rangers designated Cruz for project initially of 2008, however they retained him after he cleared waivers. Cruz went on to mash 37 dwelling runs within the minors that yr, and he chipped in an amazing .330/.421/.609 line and 7 homers in 133 main league PA. That was actually the beginning of a fruitful run in Texas and within the majors as an entire. From 2009-13 as a Rangers common, Cruz piled up 135 homers, batted .272/.331/.511 and received an ALCS MVP in 2011. To be clear, although, not all the pieces went swimmingly for Cruz within the Lone Star State. The previous outfielder’s defensive limitations helped result in a catastrophic World Sequence loss to the Cardinals in 2011. Two years later, Cruz was hit with a 50-game suspension stemming from the Biogenesis scandal. Nevertheless, Cruz contended he solely took the substance to fight helicobacter pylori, a bacterial an infection that induced a 40-pound weight reduction.

Journeys To Free Company

  • The PED ban got here at an particularly inopportune time for Cruz, then a soon-to-be free agent; after rejecting the Rangers’ $14.1M qualifying supply, he needed to accept a one-year, $8M assure with the Orioles in February 2014. The transfer wound up as a optimistic for each side, although, as Cruz rebuilt his inventory as a member of a playoff workforce by slashing .271/.333/.525 and establishing a brand new profession excessive with 40 homers.
  • Cruz returned to the open market the following offseason, however he did much better that point. In what regarded like a questionable transfer by the Mariners, they handed Cruz a four-year, $57M assure. Because it turned out, Cruz greater than lived as much as his payday in Seattle, the place he actually cemented himself as an all-world offensive participant. He appeared in at the least 144 video games in every season from 2015-18 – a 1,967-PA stretch by which he racked up 163 homers, hit .284/.362/.546 and recorded an eye-popping 147 wRC+.
  • After his excellent Seattle stint, Cruz reached free company but once more previous to the 2019 marketing campaign. And as soon as once more, the workforce that signed him got here away completely satisfied. Cruz inked a one-year, $14.3M assure with the Twins, although the pact additionally included a $12M membership possibility for 2020. Unsurprisingly, the Twins picked up that possibility after Cruz helped the workforce set an all-time single-season HR document (307) en path to 101 wins and a division title. Regardless of solely showing in 120 video games, Cruz contributed 41 of these dingers. Pound for pound, it could have been his best season on the plate to date – he registered a .311/.392/.639 line with a personal-high 163 wRC+.


It’s not precisely widespread to see a participant thrive underneath three consecutive free-agent contracts, however Cruz has managed to perform the feat. He’ll have a possibility to go 4-for-Four if he turns into a free agent once more subsequent winter. Though Cruz will flip 40 on July 1, his bat’s getting older like effective wine, so it could appear unwise to doubt him.

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