Jon Heyman made some waves Thursday morning when he reported that the Blue Jays are a team that has shown interest in Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz. Cruz, who was named to his seventh All Star team this past weekend, is one of the premiere offensive players in all of baseball.
While he won’t give you much on the defensive side of the ball, Cruz makes up for this with his tremendous power, slugging 40 home runs in four of the past seven seasons, while posting a .920 OPS in that time period as well. The Dominican Republic native is in the midst of another fantastic season, posting a .304 average, with a .939 OPS and a 144 wRC+.
The thought of adding Cruz to a lineup that already leads the Majors in long balls and slugging percentage is fun to think about, and gives me flashbacks to when former General Manager Alex Anthopoulos was able to acquire Troy Tulowitzki back in 2015, and placed him at the top of an order that already featured sluggers such as Josh Donaldson Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.
A lineup featuring the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Marcus Semien, Bo Bichette and Nelson Cruz would be electric, and a treat to watch game in and game out. The problem that the Jays face while looking to acquire the 7x All-Star is that they really don’t have space for him, due to how their roster is currently constructed.
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Cruz is a DH. The slugger hasn’t played a game in the field since 2018 and at 40 years old, I don’t think it would be wise for the Jays to ask the Dominican native to go outside of his comfort zone and attempt to give them meaningful innings in the outfield. Charlie Montoyo appears to like having an open DH spot, and uses it to give his regular’s a day off their feet, while keeping their bats in the lineup.
Bringing Cruz on board would take away this luxury and may force someone like Guerrero Jr. to play more games in the field, which could potentially take a toll on his health, and slow down what has been an excellent season for the 22 year old.
Cruz is also poised to be one of the premiere rentals on the market this year, and will more than likely require a premium prospect in order to pry him out of the Twin Cities. The Blue Jays already have four above average outfielders (five if you include recently acquired Corey Dickerson) and are able to get them all regular at-bats because they have an open DH spot, and because Dickerson is currently on the Injured List.
Bringing Cruz on board would likely mitigate one of Lourdes Gurriel Jr or Randal Grichuk to a bench role. This would undoubtedly improve the starting lineup, as Cruz is a much more productive hitter then either of the aforementioned names, but the question I have is:
‘Would the prospect capital that would be needed to pry Cruz out of Minnesota be better spent on other areas of the Blue Jays’ roster?
The Jays are still three games out of a playoff spot. While Cruz improves the team as a whole, I’m not quite sure his bat would be enough to cover up the mess of a bullpen that the club currently possesses. Giving up a prospect like Jordan Groshans to bring Cruz in and not play a game of October baseball would be super frustrating. I’m all for GM Ross Atkins trying to bolster this current group at the trade deadline, I just feel that acquiring Cruz may not be the best use of their resources.
If the Jays do decide to bring Nelson Cruz into the fold, it would need to be along with other big time moves, like adding a high leverage reliever and a top of the rotation arm. I’m definitely not advocating for an “all-in” trade deadline, but with how much Cruz could potentially cost from a prospect standpoint combined with where the Jays currently sit in the standings, it’s the only way I can wrap my head around anteing up for the seven time All-Star.