The Blue Jays are apparently interested in free agent Nelson Cruz
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By Michael Liu2 months ago
Exiting the all-star break, the Toronto Blue Jays sit third in the AL East 7 games back of first place. It’s not an awful position to be in, especially with the expanded playoff format, but it wouldn’t be bad to shore up the team heading into the stretch run.
The Jays’ interest in free agent DH Nelson Cruz makes a lot of sense when looking at the team and player. While Toronto has been an above-average team offensively this season, they’ve struggled mightily against left-handed batters (From .259/.326/.415 to .257/.325/.375). Adding a right-handed bat like Cruz’s to the lineup could prove helpful in changing that drop-off a little.
While Cruz hasn’t looked quite like his old self after underwhelming stints with the Rays, Nationals and Padres, there’s still good reason to believe that the slugger has something left in the tank. It wasn’t so long ago in 2021 with the Twins that Cruz was hitting like his old self, and even this season he’s slashing 237/.306/.352.
The 43-year-old will most likely be splitting duties at DH with Brandon Belt, which should help boost both players’ effectiveness. Belt is batting a dismal .167/.250/.167 against lefty pitchers, and Cruz was hitting .248/.345/.383 against southpaws last season. A platoon at DH should help ease the load on the older Cruz, reducing the responsibilities of being a daily DH, while also allowing Belt to match up better in games against right-handed pitchers. Toronto’s other options at DH in Alejandro Kirk and Danny Jansen have been similarly ineffective this year against lefties, thus making the need for a right-handed bat in the lineup just that more important.
It’s a low-risk speculative add that could help bolster the Jays lineup ever so slightly. With the Padres still on hook for his salary, Toronto could pay the league minimum salary and see what he can do for the ballclub. With two weeks until the trade deadline, Cruz could have an extended tryout before the Jays decide to make any major moves to give the roster a shakeup. It’s a low price to pay for a man who’s racked up 464 homers in his career.
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