When the MLB lockout ends, Nelson Cruz will be one of the most coveted free agents looking to sign with a team, but who should sign the veteran slugger?
An average 41-year-old is supposed to be embracing his dadbod while maybe playing bowling twice a week for his most athletic endeavor. This isn’t the case with MLB free agent Nelson Cruz. Despite being over-the-hill, he’s one of baseball’s most intriguing free agents especially with 15 teams in Major League Baseball suddenly becoming a fit.
The addition of the DH to the National League further extends Cruz’s career—as if he was ready to hang up his cleats just yet anyway. Although his time with the Tampa Bay Rays was a little disappointing (.226/.283/.442 slash line) he did hit 13 home runs and finished the year with an overall .265/.334/.497 batting line and 32 home runs.
Cruz hasn’t shown the typical signs of aging that most players in his position would. Although a .300 batting average may no longer be in his future, the man can rake home runs with the best of them. Since 2014, he has finished every non-shortened year with 30+ dingers. When the lockout ends, these three teams should be all over trying to sign him in hopes that he can be their DH and power them to victory.
Nelson Cruz free agent destination: Milwaukee Brewers
No playoff team seemed to be more lopsided in 2022 than the Milwaukee Brewers. They had the starting pitching. They had the bullpen. They just didn’t have the offense.
This become apparent in the postseason when the Atlanta Braves took them down rather easily. Adding Cruz would not only help improve their team, it would also bring him back to where he began his major league career in 2005.
Cruz is one of baseball’s most-traveled veterans with stops along the way at numerous American League cities. A move to the National League was possible early on when he was still an outfielder. For the majority of his career, however, Cruz has slotted in comfortably as the DH for many teams.
The Brewers already have an absence of offense at the eight positions and no crazy-good option at DH. Cruz can completely change their lineup and even help Christian Yelich regain his MVP form if he’s able to provide some protection.
Because of his age, Cruz shouldn’t cost a whole lot or expect to sign for too many years. He’s the kind of investment a win-now team on a budget like the Brewers need to target hard.