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With Nelson Cruz off to Minnesota, a look at his best Mariners moments

Signing Nelson Cruz turned out to be a massive success for the Mariners. (AP)

Nelson Cruz, perhaps the most successful free-agent signing in Seattle Mariners history, is heading to Minnesota.

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The 38-year-old Cruz has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Twins that includes an option for a second season, marking the end of his time in Seattle where he was both a perennial All-Star and a fan favorite.

Cruz acknowledged his impending departure in a touching Instagram post on Thursday morning.

While it may be hard to see Cruz go, let’s take a look back at some of his greatest moments in a Mariners uniform.

Walk-off single vs. Texas: April 19, 2015

The Mariners had long struggled to figure out Rangers closer Neftali Feliz. They had also struggled to find a reliable slugger to turn to in key moments. In Cruz’s first month in Seattle, he solved both of those problems, delivering a walk-off RBI single on a Sunday afternoon to beat his former team.

Nelson has left the building: May 28, 2016

Cruz hit a lot of home runs in a Mariners uniform – seriously, a lot. He also hit some pretty massive homers, but the one we may remember most when all is said and done didn’t even count. In batting practice late in May of 2016, Cruz became the first (and to this point only) person to hit a ball clear out of Safeco Field onto neighboring S Royal Brougham Way.

Keeping hope alive: Oct. 1, 2016

In Game 161 of the 2016 season, the Mariners’ postseason hopes were still alive. But with Seattle trailing the Oakland Athletics 7-4 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, they were running out of chances. Robinson Canó delivered an RBI single, however, and Cruz followed up with one of the most important home runs in recent Mariners history, tying things up at 7-7. And while the M’s ended up falling 9-8 in 10 innings, it should not be forgotten how Cruz kept them in the postseason race for at least a few more innings.

HR No. 300: July 7, 2017

Cruz was a late bloomer, not hitting 20 home runs for the first time until his age-28 season and having to wait until his 30s to crack 100 homers for his career. He had picked up considerable speed by the time he came to Seattle, however, and now he goes to Minnesota with a streak of five straight seasons with 37 homers or more. Amidst that streak was his 300th career home run, which he crushed at Safeco Field against the A’s midway through the 2017 campaign.

Big week out East: June 2018

The Mariners were on a roll in mid-June when they headed out for a tough trip on the East Coast, and facing the Yankees and Red Sox turned out to be some trouble for the M’s. They lost five of six, and if it wasn’t for Cruz, it would have looked even uglier. Despite the Mariners’ struggles against the American League East, Cruz actually won American League Player of the Week honors for hitting .500 (12-24 AB) with three home runs and eight RBIs, including a huge game in Boston where he cranked a pair of homers and drove in seven runs.

Honorable mention – Jean’s biggest fan: July 17, 2018

Jean Segura’s All-Star Game homer was exciting for all of us. But nobody was more excited than Cruz. Nobody.

And if you didn’t know why Seattle is going to miss Nelson Cruz, now you know.

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