Who will designate Nelson Cruz to hit for their team?
With so many impact players available, this year's free-agent season has the potential to be the most hectic we've ever seen. To keep everything organized, we're bringing back the Free Agent Matrix to parse out where this year's top talents might end up signing.
There are few issues baseball fans love debating more than whether the DH should be universal or abolished entirely. For now, the DH is clearly here to stay, allowing American League teams to bolster their offense with the bat of a player who may not be good enough on defense to make the lineup otherwise. No designated hitter has lived up to the job title more over the last several years than Nelson Cruz, who now enters free agency at age-38.
This is Cruz's third time on the free-agent market, after handsomely rewarding his previous two teams, the Orioles and Mariners, with significant offensive production over the length of his first two free-agent contracts.
No player in baseball has hit more home runs over the last five seasons than Cruz's 203 long balls, which is 15 whole dingers ahead of second-place
Which teams could use Cruz the most? Let's take a look at the market for the Boomstick:
The Dark Horses
A National League team may not seem like a natural fit, but consider this: The D-backs allowed
If the Twins are serious about contending in the AL Central sooner rather than later, adding Cruz would signify that they won't strictly be relying on the magic of
The Boomstick's home for the last four seasons, Cruz has done everything and more to live up to the $64 million contract he signed before the 2015 season. He has been the heart of the Mariners offense alongside his good friend
If the Rays do want to continue their recent trend of acquiring as many Mariners players as possible, Cruz is an obvious candidate to head to Tampa Bay and help an exciting young team compete in the AL East.
It almost makes too much sense for a Houston team that failed to defend their 2017 World Series title due in some part to its offense going quiet. Cruz can hit the ball out of any ballpark, but the Crawford Boxes would be an especially enticing home run target, let alone the iconic train tracks above. Joining the Astros may also be Cruz's best option if his top priority is getting back to October and winning his first World Series ring ... even if it would break the hearts of Mariners fans.
Jordan Shusterman is one half of Cespedes Family BBQ. He enjoys overpaying for Mike Trout in fantasy baseball leagues and convincing the masses that Mike Zunino is good.
Jake Mintz is the louder half of the Cespedes Family BBQ. Despite a torn UCL in his right elbow, he still finds a way to tweet excessively during baseball games.