Washington Nationals: Nelson Cruz Adds Much Needed Production In The Lineup

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 02: Nelson Cruz #23 of the Tampa Bay Rays in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on October 02, 2021 in New York City. The Rays defeated the Yankees 12-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 02: Nelson Cruz #23 of the Tampa Bay Rays in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on October 02, 2021 in New York City. The Rays defeated the Yankees 12-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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The Washington Nationals have found their DH for 2022, signing veteran slugger Nelson Cruz to a one-year deal.

After trading away Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, Yan Gomes, and Josh Harrison, it wouldn’t have been a surprise if the Washington Nationals’ offense fell apart. Instead, they were a pleasant surprise, leading the NL in OBP (.348), and walk percentage (11.1%). They also finished third in batting average (.257), and fourth in wRC+ (104).

Their problem was driving in runs, with Juan Soto and Josh Bell the only consistent source of production In the lineup. Earlier today manager Dave Martinez told reporters he was set on adding a power bat and responded by signing veteran Nelson Cruz to a one-year deal worth $12 million. The deal also includes a $16 million mutual option for 2023, with a three million buyout.

Turning 42 this season, Cruz has been one of the most prolific home runs hitters this generation, hitting 449 career homers. This past season with the Twins and Rays he hit .265, with 32 homers, 86 RBIs, and an OPS of .832. Against the Red Sox in the ALDS, he was held in check, going 3-17, with a homer, and one RBI.

With MLB implementing the universal DH for this season, Cruz quickly became one of the most sought out players on the open market. The Braves, Padres, Dodgers, and Brewers were also all in on Cruz and it comes as a surprise to some that the slugger chose a rebuilding club.

From Washington’s perspective, this move was a no-brainer. Despite being in a rebuild they went out and added one of the top players at his position, proving to Soto they are determined to build around him. Needless to say, it was announced that the young phenom was excited by the acquisition.

For Cruz, he must have been thrilled at the opportunity to play with Soto. Already one of the best hitters on the planet, Soto provides Cruz with instant protection and instantly becomes one of the best players he’s ever hit behind.

Bell will also benefit from this, as he is projected to hit behind Cruz and will have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs. In fact, Soto, Cruz, and Bell will team up to form one of the best 3-4-5 combos in baseball.

Don’t be surprised if Cruz’s tenure with the Nats is short-lived. It is most likely he will be shipped out at the deadline to a contender, allowing the Nationals to add to their farm system.

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