Free Agents who could thrive at AFF: #8 Nelson Cruz
Since the announcement of the designated hitter coming to the National League, many have begun proposing the reunion of longtime MLB designated hitter Nelson Cruz and the Milwaukee Brewers. There are a handful of reasons to consider this despite the fact that Cruz will be 42 on July 1st.
Firstly, Nelson Cruz hit home runs in 5.5 percent of his at bats in 2021 as a member of the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays. Cruz hit 19 home runs as a Twin and another 13 after being traded to the Rays. Secondly, 52.5 percent of Nelson Cruz’s batted balls in play left his bat at 95 miles per hour or higher, that is the highest percentage of players on this list.
Thirdly, Nelson Cruz slugged .497 in 2021, and in addition to his 32 home runs, Cruz added 21 doubles. Cruz also had 86 RBIs, which would have tied Avisail Garcia for the most on the Brewers in 2021. Lastly, Nelson Cruz finished 2021 with a 122 wRC+, meaning he was 22 points above average as a batter when factoring in the ballparks he played in and being in the American League.
As mentioned, Nelson Cruz will be 42 in July so its a bit of an unknown how much he has left in the tank. However, if used strictly as a designated hitter, Cruz has given no indications that he is slowing down and likely wouldn’t cost a ton for the Milwaukee Brewers to offer him a one year deal.
Free Agents who could thrive at AFF: #7 Andrew McCutchen
Andrew McCutchen comes in at number seven on this list for a similar reason as Nelson Cruz, age. If the Milwaukee Brewers were to consider signing McCutchen to a deal as a designated hitter and potential backup outfielder, it would likely be a short term deal as McCutchen is already 35 years old.
That being said Andrew McCutchen still had a solid 2021 at the plate and has been reliable his whole career, McCutchen has been above 100 in wRC+ his entire career, including 107 in 2021. In addition to his wRC+, Andrew McCutchen also hit home runs on 4.7 percent of his at bats and had a hard hit percentage of 39.5 percent on his way to slugging .444.
Where Andrew McCutchen has been less valuable is in the outfield, that said with the National League adopting the designated hitter, maybe the Milwaukee Brewers could see McCutchen as an under the radar player for that role and sign him to a short term deal. He’s not as good as he once was, but he’s still a productive hitter.