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Evaluating 3 ideal Nelson Cruz trade destinations

Vincent Frank

Any contending team would love to have the pop that Nelson Cruz provides. Despite his advanced age of 42, the designated hitter continues to rake at that plate. Consider this. Cruz has hit north of 30 homers each season since back in 2014 outside of the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign.

Now that we have a universal designated hitter, interest in Cruz won’t be limited to American League teams. With his Washington Nationals currently sitting in last place in the National League East, moving off Cruz ahead of the Aug. 2 MLB trade deadline seems to be a foregone conclusion. Below, we look at three ideal Nelson Cruz landing spots ahead of the aforementioned deadline.

Related: Updated MLB trade rumors

New York Mets add pop to the lineup

nelson cruz trade new york mets
Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that the Mets are looking to add a designated hitter to the mix following the struggles of J.D. Davis, among others, in that role. The first-place team has made that clear recently.

“We’ve got among the lowest DH productivity in the game. Take [Pete] Alonso out of it and it’s been very poor. We’ve been waiting all season for one or two of those players to ignite, and that hasn’t happened.”

New York Mets president Sandy Alderson on interest in a DH, via the NY Post

New York has also been linked to Cruz with roughly three weeks to go before the trade deadline. It makes sense in that a deal of this ilk likely wouldn’t require one of the team’s top prospects.

  • Nelson Cruz stats (2022): .241 average, 8 HR, 47 RBI, .689 OPS

Despite somewhat of a down season, Cruz would act as an upgrade over Davis (3 HR in 167 at-bats) and Dominic Smith (.203 average, .581 OPS)

  • New York Mets trade: Mike Vasil
  • Washington Nationals trade: Nelson Cruz

From Washington’s perspective, it acquires a 22-year-old starting pitching prospect in Vasil who has performed well in Single-A this season.

The former eighth-round pick from Virginia is pitching to a 3-1 record with a 2.57 ERA and 0.97 WHIP while striking out 37 batters in 35 innings. He’d simply add to the lower-end of their farm system for a 42-year-old rental.

Related: MLB predictions 2022

Nelson Cruz trade to the Seattle Mariners

nelson cruz trade seattle mariners
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Right now, Seattle finds itself in playoff contention despite major struggles from the DH spot. Abraham Toro has seen a ton of action — hitting a mere .180 with a .558 OPS. That’s just not going to cut it for Scott Servais’ squad.

We also know that team president Jerry Dipoto loves to pull off multiple trade deadline deals. There’s no reason to believe he won’t target a designated hitter to round out a lineup that includes studs such as Eugenio Suarez, Julio Rodriguez and Ty France.

  • Nelson Cruz contract: 1 years, $12 million w/ $3 million mutual option

Seattle would be looking at adding roughly $6 million to its payroll by acquiring Cruz. Perhaps, the team could offer up a bit more in return for Washington paying some of that cash — enabling the Mariners to pull off another move or two in the process.

  • Seattle Mariners trade: Jonatan Clase
  • Washington Nationals trade: Nelson Cruz

In this deal, Washington acquires a top-20 Mariners prospect in exchange for Cruz. A product of the Dominican Republic, Clase is only 20 years old and has already made it to Single-A ball. The outfielder is also performing well, hitting .258 with seven homers, 26 RBI and a .783 OPS in 63 games.

It’s this type of upside Washington would be looking for if the team were to pick up some of Cruz’ contract. It would certainly be a boon for the rebuilding team.

Related: Updated MLB power rankings

Los Angeles Dodgers go big-game hunting

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Washington Nationals
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles just has not received a ton of punch from its platoon at DH. Edwin Rios is hitting .244 and is currently on the 60-day injured list. Max Muncy has been injured throughout the season and boasts a .161 batting average. It would not be a surprise if the first-place team looked to make a move for Cruz.

We also wouldn’t be surprised if Los Angeles added another late-inning arm to the mix with Craig Kimbrel struggling big time. That’s where Nationals closer Tanner Rainey (3.30 ERA, 12 saves) could come into play.

  • Los Angeles Dodgers trade: Michael Grove, Jake Vogel
  • Washington Nationals trade: Nelson Cruz, Tanner Rainey

In this deal, Washington acquires a 25-year-old former second-round pick in Grove who already has a MLB-caliber arm. The West Virginia product averaged over a strikeout per inning in 10 starts between Double-A and Triple-A before getting a small cup of coffee with the Dodgers.

Vogal provides depth in the farm system as a former third-round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. The outfielder is ways away from the Majors, but gives Washington a nice amount of value in this trade.