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The ageless wonder Nelson Cruz, a free agent to be, could find himself traded for the second consecutive season.
Cruz, 41, signed a one-year, $15 million contract with the Washington Nationals over the offseason, a move that left many in the industry scratching their heads. Cruz’s contract contains a mutual option for a second season but if he stays in D.C., it’s not likely to be picked up on both sides.
While the big slugger is off to a relatively slow start in 2022 (.194 average with just a 72 OPS+ through 33 games), he’s gotten off to slow starts before over the years, still possesses otherworldly power and is still to be viewed as one of the most fearsome home run hitters in today’s game.
With the Nationals comfortably in last place in the NL East thanks to their 12-24 record, Cruz is one of the likelier trade candidates on the team come July. Even though he is already over 40 years of age, he is a slight statistical turnaround away from netting a decent return in a trade.
Nelson Cruz trade rumors: 5 favorites
*Note: All stats are current as of the morning of May 16th, 2022.
San Diego Padres
The Padres somewhat surprisingly pursued Cruz at last year’s trade deadline with the idea of playing him at first base for the first time in his career. Cruz, a horrible defender in the outfield, would not have done well in that role for the Padres (despite the fact that he did make one start at 1B for the Rays last year).
Here we are in 2022 and the Padres have Luke Voit plugged in to their everyday DH role with the newly-signed Robinson Cano expected to get some at-bats there as well. Voit has struggled mightily to begin the season and it is worth wondering whether he’d be better suited as a platoon-partner for Eric Hosmer, who has come out of nowhere and seemingly found his swing again.
With Voit making a move to part-time DH/platoon first base option, Cruz could slide right into the middle of this Padres lineup to backup Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis and the aforementioned Hosmer.
The Padres have a large amount of minor league pitching prospects they could pick from in a potential deal for Cruz, as well as the recently demoted Dinelson Lamet who they seem to have given up on and are dangling in trade talks.