Healthy Cruz gets two-year deal from Rangers

BY foxsports • February 9, 2012

Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz spent the offseason getting healthy.

Wednesday, the Rangers made him wealthy.

Texas signed Cruz, who had two arbitration-eligible years remaining, to a two-year, $16 million contract. Cruz was slated to have an arbitration hearing next week but will now continue his offseason plans of working out in Miami and getting ready for the 2012 season.

Cruz, who has been plagued by leg injuries, has spent the past four weeks working at Bommarito Performance, which is also where Texas teammates Mike Napoli and Leonys Martin train. It's also the same facility many NFL prospects use as they prepare for the NFL combine.

"I've been working a lot on my hamstrings to make sure I stay healthy this season," Cruz said. "I feel like I'm in better shape right now than in the past. I expect a big performance of myself and nothing less than going back to the World Series."

In addition to the workouts, Cruz has also changed his diet and feels like he's healthier. That wasn't the case for part of the offseason as he was slowed by a stomach bacterial infection while in the Dominican Republic and was forced to go to Miami to see a doctor. That's where he's remained the past month.

Cruz is coming off a 2011 season in which he hit 29 home runs but missed 38 games because of injuries. Most will remember Cruz for his postseason efforts, though. He was the American League Championship Series most valuable player after hitting six home runs in six games. His World Series didn't end on such a high note, as Cruz just missed a catch in Game 6 that would have ended the game and clinched the World Series for Texas.

Cruz hasn't forgotten about that game but has moved past it.

"It's one of those balls where I trust my instincts," Cruz said of the ball hit by David Freese in the ninth inning. "I should have been closer to the wall. At that moment in that situation, I believed I should have been playing shallow, and that's what happened."

Even though the Rangers have Cruz locked up until he's eligible for free agency after the 2013 season, both sides are still open to a deal that cuts into that time. Assistant general manager Thad Levine said the sides talked about one-year, two-year and long-term deals, but settled on a two-year pact.

The Cruz signing comes a day after the Rangers signed Elvis Andrus to a three-year deal through his arbitration years. Napoli is now the only arbitration-eligible player still unsigned, and Levine said the team is trying to get a deal worked out before his Wednesday hearing.

"The reality is that each of these negotiations go at a little different pace," Levine said. "Clearly at this juncture we're going to turn 100 percent of our attention towards working with Napoli and trying to explore all the alternatives there to avoid going to a hearing if possible."

Cruz is happy with the direction the team has taken in getting the core players signed beyond 2012.

"With what we did last year and the year before, we know we haven't completed our main goal, which is to win the World Series," Cruz said. "We definitely have a good team. We have a new pitcher (Yu Darvish), and hopefully he can bring over here what he did in Japan."