The slugger has been in the league since 2005, and it’s hard to imagine the game without him.
Having said that, Cruz is 41 years old, and he can’t play forever.
He’s still producing at a high level, but how much longer will that be the case?
Cruz is a free agent this offseason, and it’ll be very interesting to see what he opts to do.
What’s next for him?
Recapping Cruz’s Odd 2021 Season
Cruz had an unusual campaign in 2021.
His year got off to a fantastic start with the Minnesota Twins, as he posted a .907 OPS and 148 OPS+ over 85 games with Minnesota.
His stint with the Twins came to an end around the trade deadline, however.
He wound up with the Tampa Bay Rays for the final months of the season, which gave him a chance to play for a contending team.
Unfortunately, Tampa Bay’s title hopes didn’t pan out, and neither did Cruz’s time with the team.
His production dropped off once he put on a Rays uniform, and he finished his stint with a .725 OPS and 103 OPS+.
Those numbers are certainly serviceable, but Tampa Bay was surely hoping for more.
To make matters worse, Cruz had a pretty quiet showing in the postseason, batting .176 with a .575 OPS over four games.
He actually has a fantastic playoff track record, so his performance in the 2021 postseason came as a big surprise to some fans.
What should we make of all of this?
Does Cruz Still Have Some Good Seasons Left?
It’s probably safe to say that Cruz’s poor showing with the Rays put a dent in his stock.
But here’s the thing: He deserves the benefit of the doubt.
The seven-time All-Star has been one of baseball’s most consistent hitters for over a decade, and a poor two-month showing with Tampa Bay isn’t enough of a reason to believe that he’s washed.
Since the start of the 2008 season, Cruz has an OPS of .887 and OPS+ of 137.
Moreover, since the start of the 2014 campaign, he has a .908 OPS and 147 OPS+.
Massive sample sizes, and massive results.
Nelson Cruz hits a grand slam 😳
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 5, 2021
Cruz certainly needs to prove himself again in 2022, but he has earned the right to get the chance.
Where Might He Land This Offseason?
Now that we’ve come to the conclusion that Cruz likely still has some gas left in the tank, let’s think about some possible landing spots for him.
Here’s something very interesting to keep in mind: There’s a belief that MLB will introduce the universal DH in 2022.
That seemingly opens up a lot of options for potential landing spots for Cruz.
The Milwaukee Brewers come to mind as an intriguing possibility, and there has been a little bit of speculation about the two sides linking up.
Aside from Milwaukee, some fans have thrown the Seattle Mariners around as an option.
Read a article this morning.. Mariners top 3 free agents targets are:
One thing they all have in common? Former Mariners #SeaUsRise
— George Jarjour (@GeorgeOnTap) November 9, 2021
Perhaps that’s something to keep an eye on.
Some legit rumors will surely surface in the near future.
Only time will tell where the four-time Silver Slugger lands.