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Nelson Cruz is 41 and as lethal as ever. With the Minnesota Twins presumably out of playoff contention and likely sellers, the designated hitter is poised to be a sought-after player on the MLB trade market.
This season, Cruz has totaled 19 home runs and 49 RBIs while sporting a .299 batting average, a .921 OPS and a 155 OPS+. Furthermore, he’s in the top five percent of MLB in average exit velocity (93.4 mph), maximum exit velocity (116.6 mph) and hard-hit percentage (54.0 percent) per Statcast.
Keeping in mind that Cruz hasn’t made an appearance in the field since 2018, it’s likely that American League ball clubs will be his suitors. Here are three teams that make sense for a Nelson Cruz trade.
Oakland Athletics add more power by trading for Nelson Cruz
The A’s have been a mixed bag this season. It’s the same positional core with the pitching staff carrying the load. That said, their offense has been monotonous and could use a jolt. Nelson Cruz adds a new threat to their order.
Yes, the A’s have few players who hit for contact, as their offense is a combination of power hitters and scrappy but inconsistent infielders. In theory, Cruz is a tedious addition to their offense. However, the big man is adept at getting on base at a high level. He draws walks at a reasonable rate, is striking out at a career-low rate this season and is hitting a combined .305 over the last three seasons with the Twins.
Cruz would overtake Mitch Moreland as manager Bob Melvin’s primary designated hitter. He could serve as an intimidating power threat who produces offense in the middle of their order.
Despite the aforementioned positives of the A’s trading for Cruz, they may refrain from doing as such due to them having a bevy of starting-caliber players with defensive versatility. Cruz isn’t a defensive asset.
Chicago White Sox add more offensive firepower in Nelson Cruz
The White Sox don’t exactly need more offense, but it can’t hurt, right? Plus, there are some factors working in favor of them making an intradivision trade for Nelson Cruz.
For starters, the White Sox have been a revolving door at DH. That’s a result of injuries and Yermin Mercedes, who began the season as one of the hottest hitters in the sport, being recently sent to Triple A. Some of the prominent sluggers have also been a bit underwhelming. While they’ve manufactured plenty of run production, Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada have gotten on base by means of base hits at a yawning rate. Cruz adds a would-be welcome run producer to manager Tony La Russa’s lineup.
The ageless wonder could do damage in the middle of the order or even be in the bottom half of the order, serving as the base clearer in the second inning. His power improves an offense that’s shockingly 22nd in MLB in home runs (103). Cruz’ veteran pedigree bodes well for a core that is yet to win a playoff series and has World Series aspirations.
If and when they get healthier down the home stretch, Cruz makes a high-octane White Sox’ offense formidable. At the same time, them getting healthier in the coming weeks and months could be what stops them from acquiring a short-term DH upgrade.
Toronto Blue Jays further weaponize their offense by trading for Nelson Cruz
The Blue Jays are founded on homegrown hitters, but they do have a vacancy in their depth chart. With Rowdy Tellez being sent to the Milwaukee Brewers, manager Charlie Montoyo doesn’t necessarily have a set-in-stone designated hitter. Acquiring Nelson Cruz emphatically resolves the matter.
There would be no shortage of opportunities for the 41-year-old to drive in runs. He’d hit a spot or two behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and around the likes of George Springer and Teoscar Hernandez. Cruz makes a seven-deep offense that much deeper. Sure, the Blue Jays should be on the lookout for pitching upgrades as they strive to crack the AL playoffs. They can simultaneously do as such and fill a void on their offense.
Cruz’ arrival forces the Blue Jays to move players around the diamond, which is manageable. Outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has plenty of infield experience, and Springer has missed most of his debut season with the Blue Jays due to injuries. Having an extra bat would come in handy for this team.
They need to perform better in divisional play to get to the AL Wild Card Game, let alone win the AL East (the Blue Jays are 15-20 against the Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees this season). That can come in the form of strengthening a strength or beefing up a weakness. Keeping in mind that he’s a free agent after this season, trading for Nelson Cruz shouldn’t force the Blue Jays to back up the prospect truck for his services.