Nelson Cruz was designated for assignment and the Blue Jays need a right-handed bat

Cam Lewis
5 months ago
The Toronto Blue Jays made an effort to become more left-handed during the off-season.
Out the door went Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel, and Gabriel Moreno and in came Daulton Varsho, Kevin Kiermaier, and Brandon Belt as the Blue Jays sought to construct a more diverse lineup than the ones they’ve had in recent years.
The trouble now is that when all of Varsho, Kiermaier, and Belt are in the lineup, the Blue Jays are susceptible to being carved up by left-handed pitchers.
As a team, they’re slashing .262/.328/.427 against right-handed pitchers and .256/.323/.379 against left-handed pitchers. The batting average and on-base numbers are fairly similar but the big difference is that the Blue Jays are hitting for very little power against lefties.
They’ve hit 81 homers off of right-handed pitchers and only 14 against southpaws and those 14 homers were all hit by right-handed hitters. Toronto’s lefties, Varsho, Kiermaier, Belt, Cavan Biggio, Nathan Lukes, and Spencer Horwitz, haven’t hit a single home run off of a left-handed pitcher this season. They collectively have a .227/.299/.265 line over 148 plate appearances against lefties.
As spring turned to winter, there was plenty of talk that the Blue Jays could put a bow on a nice off-season by adding a big right-handed bat to platoon with Toronto’s lefty trio. Names like A.J. Pollock, Adam Duvall, and Andrew McCutchen were suggested but wound up signing elsewhere.
Here we are now and it’s pretty clear that the Blue Jays need a lefty masher. How about Nelson Cruz?
The 43-year-old was designated for assignment by the San Diego Padres on Tuesday. He’s slashed a .245/.283/.399 line over 152 plate appearances this season with five home runs and a ridiculous 46-to-6 strikeout-to-walk rate.
Cruz used to be one of baseball’s most feared power hitters. He has 464 dingers for his career and has been named to seven All-Star teams. His bat obviously isn’t what it used to be but he isn’t that far removed from a three-season run with the Minnesota Twins in which he smashed 89 bombs and had an OPS of .936 over 1,319 trips to the plate.
It would be unreasonable to expect Cruz to return to that level given his age but it’s also hard to imagine he could be much worse against lefty pitching than Toronto’s lefty batters have been. The Blue Jays have hardly used the 26th man on their roster this season so they might as well use that spot to take a gamble on a big bat.


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