While a lot of the attention has been focused on the New York Mets’ quest to trade for J.T. Realmuto, GM Brodie Van Wagenen has been working on other angles to improve the roster. The Mets are also looking for a right handed hitting outfielder, having held a meeting with Adam Jones in Las Vegas and being linked to A.J. Pollock. Another name that can go on the list, courtesy of FanCred’s Jon Heyman, is Nelson Cruz. Cruz, 38, hit .256 with 37 home runs and 97 RBI’s for the Seattle Mariners in 2018 while serving as their primary designated hitter.
There is no doubt that Cruz would offer plenty of right handed power to the Mets, who need it badly with Yoenis Cespedes out until at least the All Star Break. The issue here is that the Mets play in the National League, where there is no DH, so Cruz would need to play in the outfield if the Mets signed him. The Mets could have an opening in right field if they end up using Brandon Nimmo as the center piece of a Realmuto trade, so adding Cruz on a one year deal could fill that hole on a temporary basis until Cespedes returns. The problem with that line of thinking is that Cruz has played only nine games in the outfield over the past few years and is a net negative defensively , which is a problem for a team emphasizing defensive ability to support their strong pitching staff.
Even if the Mets were willing to overlook Cruz’s defensive deficiencies on the belief that Juan Lagares could be a late inning replacement, they will have competition for his services. The Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays are all in need of a full time DH and could pursue Cruz for that role. This would also be a better fit for Cruz, who is more likely to extend his career by continuing to DH instead of returning to the outfield at age 38. This idea likely counts as Van Wagenen exploring all options to improve the Mets, but the likelihood of Cruz coming to Queens is about the same as the team jumping into the fray for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.