Nelson Cruz could be a huge bat for the Colorado Rockies … under one condition
Nelson Cruz seems to be an ageless wonder as he is still hitting really well after 17 years in the majors. Cruz, 41, has hit 20 or more home runs and 75 or more RBI in each season since 2009 (with the exception of the shortened 2020 season).
Since 2014 (again, with 2020 being the exception), he has had at least 32 homers and 86 RBI per season, and an OPS+ of 147.
With his age, he has only signed one year deals for each of the last three seasons.
That bat would be a huge help for a relatively small amount of money (likely in the neighborhood of $10 to $13 million for 2022) … but there’s a problem. As of now, the NL doesn’t have a DH.
If the NL does adopt the DH, Cruz can open his pool of teams to sign with up to 30, instead of 15. Cruz has played a total of seven innings in the field in the last three seasons (seven innings at first base, a position he has never played before, for the Tampa Bay Rays this season).
Since 2017, he has played a combined 10 games (61 1/3 innings) in the field so the NL would have to adopt the DH in the new collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) for next season (the current CBA expires on December 1).
If the NL doesn’t adopt it, then the path for the Rockies to even consider Cruz as an option is much lower, as he is unlikely to take a pinch-hitting role on an NL team.
The Colorado Rockies need a few bats to help their anemic offense in 2022. They will hope that some of their current players will improve but the Rockies will also need to go outside of the organization to put the Rockies closer to the playoffs than they have been in the last three seasons.
Schwarber and Cruz are much bigger bats than Taylor but they aren’t as versatile and would likely require a DH in the NL.
New Rockies GM Bill Schmidt may decide to go the route of a trade as well or instead of relying on internal options and free agents, which would be a big difference between him and his predecessor, Jeff Bridich. Regardless of which avenue Schmidt decides to go to address the offense, the Rockies know that they need some upgrades offensively. Now, do they actually address it?