Nelson Cruz: I'd like to be a Ranger for life

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Outfielder Nelson Cruz and the Texas Rangers are actively working on a deal for next season to avoid their salary arbitration hearing set for Feb. 17.

“We’re exchanging figures, negotiating for a year but leaving the door open for a multiyear deal,” Cruz told ESPNDeportesLosAngeles.com on Tuesday.

Cruz, who has been working out in Miami since last week, traveled to the Dominican Republic for an event put on by the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo. He will return to Miami on Wednesday.

The 31-year-old Cruz is eligible for salary arbitration for the second time in his career. He is asking for $7.5 million in 2012; the Rangers offered $5.5 million. An arbitrator will decide between the two figures, although the parties could reach an agreement and sign a contract at any point before the hearing.

“I’m not afraid of the process,” Cruz said. “If we need to go to arbitration, I’ll do it. But in an ideal world, it’s better to avoid it altogether.”

Last season, Cruz batted .263 with 29 home runs and 87 RBIs in 124 regular-season games. He was named Most Valuable Player in the Rangers’ ALCS win over the Detroit Tigers after hitting .364 with six home runs and 13 RBIs. He finished the postseason with eight home runs and 16 RBIs.

“I’d like to be a Ranger for life,” said Cruz, who won’t be eligible for free agency until 2014. “I like the city, the team and the fans. “Arlington is my second home.

“But this is a business. If God wants me to keep on playing in Texas, it will happen. I have to be ready for anything.”