Understandably, the focus in D.C. and all around baseball right now is on how the Washington Nationals will proceed with Juan Soto, one of the most attractive pieces to ever be available on the trade market.
But in addition to Soto and Josh Bell, general manager Mike Rizzo and the Nationals almost certainly knew when they signed Nelson Cruz to a one-year/$12 million deal in March that they would end up flipping him to a contending team this summer.
In his 18th MLB season, Cruz is no longer the threat to hit 40 home runs annually as he was for so many years. Still, the 42-year-old slashed .293/.371/.459 between May and June, so if you insert him into a pennant race -- and a better lineup -- there's no question that he can still be a valuable bat for you.
As we approach the Aug. 2 trade deadline, here are five potential landing spots for Cruz:
Cruz homered 76 times and posted a .984 OPS in parts of three seasons with the Twins, before being traded to the Tampa Bay Rays last summer. A year later, the Twins are 50-44, and enter the second-half of the season in first place in the American League Central. Byron Buxton is healthy and Carlos Correa is in the fold -- which he may not be next year if he opts out of his contract -- so it makes sense for Thad Levine and company to be buyers. Even at this advanced stage of his career, Cruz would be an upgrade at DH for the Twins.
New York Mets
Earlier this month, Jon Heyman wrote for The New York Post that the Mets have interest in Cruz, as they look to add another run producer to a deep lineup. With the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies both likely to make additions in the coming weeks, the Mets can't rest on their laurels if they want to hold onto their lead in the National League East. Cruz would be an upgrade at DH over what the Mets have gotten from either J.D. Davis or Dom Smith this season.
Beyond trying to keep the Twins from landing Cruz, Franmil Reyes has just a .616 OPS and a -0.8 fWAR a year after homering 30 times, so the Guardians have a need at DH. The Guardians haven't been especially keen on making major financial investments in recent years, so Cruz also makes sense because he'll just be a rental.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Remember when the Dodgers acquired Jim Thome in August of 2009 to bolster their team before a postseason run? You probably don't, but believe us, it happened. Cruz would be a similar addition in the sense that he's an accomplished home run hitter chasing an elusive World Series title, and unlike in 2009, the DH is now universal. Cruz is still the type of player that can change the course of your season with one swing, and both in a loaded NL West and what projects to be a deep playoff field in the senior circuit, he could prove to be a valuable addition for Andrew Friedman and company.
While he'll probably be most remembered as a Texas Ranger when his career concludes, the 163 home runs that Cruz hit during his four seasons with the Mariners are the most he's hit for any franchise. The Mariners finished the first half of the season on a 14-game winning streak, which has them in control of the second Wild Card spot in the junior circuit. Perhaps the addition of Carlos Santana has filled the veteran slugger role in Seattle, but Jerry DiPoto and the Mariners could still stand to add another big bat with postseason experience.