Could the Astros bring in Nelson Cruz?
Fans have seen it before. The Astros bring in a hated veteran to help the team get to the playoffs. They did it in 2017 by bringing Carlos Beltran back to Houston for a one year deal. While Beltran did not have much of an impact offensively, he offered valuable leadership and added to the culture of the team. Beltran was 39 at the time and played his final game at 40-years-old. Could the Astros do the same in 2019?
The Astros are looking for a big bat, but can’t afford Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. They could add another outfielder if the price is right, but they want to give Kyle Tucker a chance to shine. The only real needs they have offensively is an everyday catcher and possibly a designated hitter. Yes, they have Tyler White, but a team is always looking to add to the depth of the roster.
Since moving to the American League, the Astros have had to face designated hitter Nelson Cruz 19 times a year. Even though it seems like more, but Cruz has hit 25 homers versus the Astros while batting .263 via Baseball-Reference. Cruz has played for the Rangers, Mariners, and one season with the Orioles. Yes, he played a handful of games with the Brewers as a rookie, but who remembers that? He has spent most of his career in the AL West. Maybe he can finish there as well.
With the trade of James Paxton, the Mariners are facing a mini-rebuild. They have no interest in the 38-year-old Cruz. Like Beltran with the Yankees, Cruz’s stats dropped in 2018, but not as drastic. According to Baseball-Reference, his batting average dropped to .256, about 7% lower than his career .274. After three years with an OPS of .900+, it dropped to .850 in 2018. He still managed to hit 37 homers and drive in 97 runs. With the power still there, someone will give him a chance in 2019.
With the winter meetings approaching, it would not be surprising if the Astros were already in talks with Cruz. It makes sense if it is only a one year deal, this would give the Astros a power bat in the five hole. His days of batting third or cleanup are over, but he could provide us with a regular DH. Unlike Evan Gattis, Cruz can still play in the outfield when they play a National League team. However, like Beltran, his outfield days may be behind him.
According to Sportrac, Cruz made $14.275 million last year. The Astros gave Beltran $15 million for his time in 2017, could they do the same with Cruz. Despite falling short last year, Houston has the best chances of returning to the World Series in 2019 with the right moves. The front office seems to be less concerned with giving a player more money per year for a short-term deal. Look for this to happen soon if the Astros are really interested.