The Tampa Bay Rays have a lot of money to spend, but if they actually shell out that cash is yet to be seen. The skeptics among us are taking a wait and see approach, and that might be the correct one.
It is no secret this Rays franchise has been skittish to spend money, but something feels different this year, but maybe that is just me hoping.
Nelson Cruz, like J.T. Realmuto, is a common name thrown around by Rays fans, and even media members linking Cruz to the Rays.
While Nelson is on the wrong side of 30 and creeping up to that 40 years old mark, Cruz’s home run production is not slowing down. Nelson Cruz belted 37 homers a year ago with the Mariners and if he ends up playing the majority of his games in the all-around hitter-friendly A.L. East, it is a safe bet that number stays in the same area if not higher.
Nelson Cruz signing in Tampa Bay would make this Rays fan, and I am sure many others, very excited. I remember being excited with a Carlos Gomez signing a year ago, and while Carlos Gomez was a fun player to watch, Nelson Cruz has the actual production to warrant a signing celebration.
A year ago, Cruz only spent four games in the field, and the Rays are in a position to allow him to stay out of the field and at the plate. Not only for the obvious of playing in the A.L. but the Rays despite trading Mallex Smith still have outfield pieces that deserve playing time. quality player Tommy Pham, gold glover Kevin Kiermaier, and young upstart Austin Medows all need at-bats, and innings logged in the field.
When playing in 100 games or more, Nelson Cruz has never failed to belt at least 22 home runs. Cruz spent time in the A.L. East where he played 159 games for the Baltimore Orioles in 2014. He hit 40 homers and slashed for .271/.333/.525 in a dominating year that saw him finish seventh in MVP voting.
Clearly, that production will not be duplicated, that was in his age 33 season. However, If Rays fans want to hope that if Cruz signs he can reach yet another level in his 14-year career, Cruz hit his career high in home runs in his age 34 season, and fell a home run shy of that 44 home run mark in his age 35 season.