The Los Angeles Dodgers enjoyed having the universal DH last season since their already-loaded lineup was even deeper with one extra bat. This became huge in the postseason when they were able to keep Austin Barnes’ defense behind the plate and use Will Smith in the lineup.
While initially just part of the shortened 2020 season, the universal DH has picked up a lot of steam and could be returning full-time. It was originally not set to return, however, MLB sent a proposal to the Players’ Association that included a 154-game season and the return of the universal DH, among other things. Though the players rejected that proposal, there’s still hope for the DH because the direction in which the game is moving.
This could open Pandora’s Box for the Dodgers, who have not made any notable position player signings this offseason. Here are five new free agents that Andrew Friedman may consider if the universal DH is indeed here to stay.
Nelson Cruz is reportedly “intrigued” by the Dodgers.
Nelson Cruz is the big name tied to the Dodgers and absolutely should be the first player mentioned. Dan Hayes of The Athletic reported that Cruz may have interest in joining the defending World Series Champions if the universal DH is adopted.
Cruz can still swing it and would be a huge power addition to the middle of the Dodgers’ order. He slugged 16 home runs with 33 RBIs and slashed .303/.397/.595 slash line. He’s averaged over 40 home runs per season from 2014-2019.
Last season, he was on a 150-game pace of 45 home runs and 93 RBIs. And that was on the Twins. Imagine Cruz sandwiched in between guys like Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager. In his last full season, Cruz slugged 41 home runs and drove in 108 RBIs.
The one concern with Cruz, if we are nitpicking, is his age. He would certainly only get a one-year deal from the Dodgers, but there’s a larger chance of a sudden regression than there is with younger options.
Cruz is 40 years old. Only two players in MLB history (David Ortiz and Darrell Evans) have hit 30 or more home runs at 40 years or older. Only eight players in MLB history have recorded a .900 OPS at 40 years or older with at least 100 games played.
Nelson Cruz is the biggest fish in the pond, but he is not the only fish that may catch the bait.