The Los Angeles Dodgers have some fundamental questions they are going to have to answer this offseason. Coming off another strong regular season only to get bounced early from the playoffs, LA looked surprisingly vulnerable as a team despite the fact that they had two viable MVP candidates in Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman on their roster.
The rotation is a mess, the bullpen could use some more depth, and the lineup outside of Mookie and Freddie is a mix of unproven young guys and guys that have been around for a while that are getting older and have some warts to their games.
2024 is absolutely going to be a transitional year for the Dodgers as a result. If the wrong moves are made, LA could find that their run of dominance in the NL West coming to an end with the Diamondbacks already nipping at their heels and the Giants looking to make a splash this offseason. Regardless of the moves that are made (good or bad), solid leadership is going to be a must and the Dodgers decided to bring in a familiar face to help as Nelson Cruz has reportedly been hired as an advisor to the team.
Dodgers hire Nelson Cruz to hopefully keep LA in contention
While the last couple years of Cruz's playing career were a bit hard to watch as age finally caught up with him and he finally retired just a few weeks ago, he comes with a legacy of excellence as a player that is unassailable. Over an astonishing 19 year career, Nelson hit 464 home runs, had a career .856 OPS, and made seven All-Star teams.
Aside from the on the field production as one of the better DHs the league has seen, Cruz has also long been known as a fantastic leader in the clubhouse and was especially good at mentoring young Latin players on how to navigate being professional baseball players.
All that is known at the moment is that Cruz is on a one-year deal as an advisor to the Dodgers. What he will be advising the team on is the ultimate question, although a safe bet is that he will be providing input on hitting to players as needed and potentially giving the Dodgers insight into specific players they may want to acquire. Given Cruz's lengthy career, there are any number of areas where he could provide valuable insight.
Of note here, Cruz is a player's player and the Dodgers bring him aboard could represent a slight shift in team philosophy. One of the hotter topics in baseball right now is the use of analytics when making strategic decisions, and the Dodgers bringing in a grizzled veteran like Cruz could be a modest move away from that or, at the very least, a way to gain some insight into how to turn all of this data into advice and plans that are better and easier to execute for the players.