Braves viewed as “strong candidates” for Nelson Cruz if DH returns to the NL

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It’s kind of — actually, not kind of — it’s totally crazy that we are less than three weeks from pitchers and catchers reporting, and we don’t even know what the rules will be for this upcoming season. Rob Manfred… you’ve truly outdone yourself once again. The latest report is that the Player’s Union will reject the league’s most recent proposal; however, there is still a belief that the two sides could come to an agreement regarding the universal DH before the start of the season.

This is likely why the Braves (and several other clubs) have been quiet, resulting in a painfully slow offseason. Having a DH in the National League next season changes everything. The Braves would likely feel much more confident in handing Marcell Ozuna a long-term contract. They could also be interested in a shorter contract with a power bat like Nelson Cruz, who I talked about as a cheaper replacement for Ozuna earlier this offseason. From the piece:

Yep, you read that right. The six-time All-Star is entering his 17th MLB season, but he’s aged like fine wine. Five of Cruz’s All-Star appearances have come since 2013, and he hit at least 37 homers in every season from 2014-2019 — a number he surely would have reached again in 2020 had it been a full 162-game schedule.

Cruz has been one of the best pure sluggers in the game for over a decade now, but he’s not strictly a power bat. He boasts a respectable career average of .278 and hit over .300 in each of the last two seasons for the Twins, leading to a combined OPS of 1.020. To put that into perspective, prior to last year’s shortened campaign, which led to an OPS of 1.067, Ozuna’s previous high in that category was .924, and for his career, it is barely over .800. Cruz’s is .876, and as I said, he’s only gotten better with age.

According to Jon Heyman, the Braves are considered “strong candidates” for the 40-year-old slugger if the DH does return to the National League.

Cruz won’t require a long-term contract, and we all know how much Alex Anthopoulos loves one-year deals. However, I don’t expect anything to happen until the league announces what the rules will be. Hopefully, that happens soon, but my expectations are never high with Rob Manfred running the show.

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