As we approach the 2021 MLB Trade Deadline, it’s important to remember that Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns doesn’t always make the obvious move.
The Brewers had needs at first base and third base this offseason and Stearns signed a second baseman and a centerfielder. Despite always needing more starting pitching the last few years, Stearns never added a big name starter. Whatever we expect Stearns to do, he does something different and it usually works out just fine.
Could he pull a similar surprise, unorthodox move and bring Nelson Cruz back to Milwaukee at the 2021 trade deadline?
Rumors have it a couple of NL clubs are interested in acquiring Twins DH Nelson Cruz. It would not be surprising if the Milwaukee Brewers were one of them.
In a recent report from both Mark Feinsand and Jeff Passan, there are a couple of National League teams that have considered acquiring Nelson Cruz at the deadline. In the NL, there’s no DH this year, so Cruz would be forced to play the field, which it’s reported he’s willing to do. He also hasn’t played the field since 2018.
If he’s going to play in the field at this point, the 41 year old Cruz would likely be relegated to first base, although he was an outfielder in his younger days. How good he would be at first base defensively is a major question mark, but what’s not a question mark is his bat.
Cruz would add some major thump to this lineup and make it a true threat down the stretch. This season, Cruz is hitting .294 with a .907 OPS and 151 OPS+ with 13 doubles and 19 homers. He can still hit and make an impact.
Doesn’t this seem like such a David Stearns move? First base is a major area of concern for the Brewers right now, and instead of bringing in a first baseman that makes a marginal improvement offensively, he acquires a designated hitter who brings a huge bat that they can stick at first base.
The Brewers have a bevy of current first base options in Keston Hiura, Rowdy Tellez, and Jace Peterson, as well as Travis Shaw and Daniel Vogelbach recovering on the IL. None bring a major offensive threat, certainly not in the way Cruz would bring.
Cruz has never played first base at the big league level. He’s also never played first base in the minor leagues. Is it a long shot to think he can play an adequate defensive first base? Perhaps. But the Brewers have never been afraid to be unconventional before, and if they feel he can do it, Cruz would be the best bat they could possibly add to this lineup at the deadline.
Feinsand and Passan didn’t specifically mention any teams in their reports that NL squads were interested in trading for Cruz, but this smells like something the Brewers would do. Stearns does his due diligence on everyone and this is the type of creative, unconventional, and possibly crazy move that they look to pull off.
Cruz at first base might be an adventure, but getting him back in a Brewers uniform, where his career began, and to get his bat in American Family Field, would make Milwaukee an instant, serious World Series threat.