It wouldn’t be deadline season without teams getting creative. Both ESPN’s Jeff Passan and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand report that at least a pair of NL clubs has explored the possibility of acquiring Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz. Passan notes that Cruz “is game” to play the field in the event of a trade.
It’d be tough for a team to trust Cruz in the field much after he hasn’t suited up for an inning of defense since 2018. He’s only logged 54 innings with a glove since 2016. That said, Cruz is the best pure hitter on the market this summer, having slashed an excellent .294/.370/.537 with 19 home runs, 13 doubles and even a triple. He’d still be able to DH in any remaining interleague games at AL parks and could also do so during World Series play, should an acquiring team advance that far. Cruz is playing the season on a one-year, $13MM deal and would be owed about $4.54MM of that sum post-trade deadline.
Neither Passan nor Feinsand lists specific teams, but from a purely speculative standpoint, any of the Padres, Braves or Giants seem like long-shot possibilities to at least consider the idea. Darren Wolfson of 1500 SKOR North in Minneapolis tweets that both the Braves and Dodgers had some interest last offseason, though many NL clubs spent much of the winter expecting that a universal DH would eventually be implemented.
San Diego general manager A.J. Preller has held an affinity for former Rangers players since taking the reins with the Friars, and he’s spoken of improving his lineup’s consistency this summer. Putting Cruz in an outfield corner would achieve that, albeit at the cost of a quite a bit of defense. There’s been no hard connection between the two parties, but the idea of an outside-the-box Cruz/Padres matchup has made sense for awhile now.