He is strictly a designated hitter, and has been one for a while, but he justifies his $13 million 2021 salary with home runs and good production at the plate.
His .270/.344/.515 line and 26 homers have been extremely helpful, first for the Minnesota Twins, and now for the Rays.
He does appear to be slowing down slightly this year, considering the fact that he slashed .303/.397/.595 in 2020 and .311/.392/.639 in 2019.
He was having a fine season in Minnesota, hitting .294/.370/.537 in 85 games.
However, he has struggled somewhat in Florida, slashing .198/.257/.448 in 24 contests.
He should regain his rhythm eventually, and while he may not be a .300/.400/.550 hitter anymore, he still projects as a good batter in 2022.
How To Value A Player Like Cruz
Calculating his value, however, is difficult given that he offers no defensive value and his bat may be declining.
The Rays, of course, are trying him at first base on Tuesday, but it shouldn’t be an everyday thing.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) August 24, 2021
Remember, Father Time is undefeated, no matter how consistently great a hitter, in this case Cruz, is.
It’s clear that he still wants to play: in the 2020 offseason, he was seeking a two-year deal that would cover his 2021 and 2022 seasons.
He didn’t get one, not even a one-year-plus-an-option deal.
He ended up re-upping with the Twins on a one-year, $13 million pact.
Getting more than that while being a year older (and over 40 years old) and with slightly worse numbers seems out of the question.
Teams are prioritizing homegrown talent and cheap, young, and controllable assets.
Cruz would be the antithesis of all that.
However, it’s clear that his right-handed bat still carries enough thump to help a contender, preferably one that plays in the American League.
It’s unclear if MLB will adopt the universal DH rule before the 2022 campaign, but if they do, it has the potential to greatly benefit Cruz’s market.
As of right now, only AL teams should be interested in him because he hasn’t played the field since 2018.
Will The Universal DH Be In Place To Help His Market?
But if the universal DH is in play for next season, National League teams could also take a look at him.
He still has the desire to play, and has things to play for.
He currently has 443 career home runs, and if he is healthy and can play for a couple more years, he has the potential to get to the 500-home runs milestone, something that only 28 hitters have been able to do.
— HerbFM Sports Radio (@HerbFM) August 22, 2021
He might have to settle for one-year deals from here on out, though.
If he couldn’t secure a two-year pact coming off two fantastic seasons in 2019 and 2020, it’s unlikely to happen for him now.
Cruz should be able to find a similar one-year deal to the one he signed in 2020, and the Twins are a reasonable option given that both parties remain open to a reunion even after the deadline trade.
In the end, Cruz will likely sign a one-year contract worth somewhere between $10 million and $12 million when all is said and done.