Chicago Cubs: Nelson Cruz
Among free agents that MLB.com considers to be designated hitters, Marcell Ozuna figures to be the big prize this offseason. However, he’s not going to be within the Cubs’ budget, so if the team is looking for a prototypical DH type, there are several other players to consider. Over the past decade or so, Nelson Cruz and Edwin Encarnacion have been the two big-name sluggers at the position, and both are free agents this offseason.
In fact, if we look at what both players did during the 2010s, it actually compares favorably with what David Ortiz, the standard for designated hitters, did during the 2000s. Neither will likely make the Hall of Fame, but both have had tremendous careers.
Encarnacion is a little younger at 38, but he’s coming off a massively disappointing season with the Chicago White Sox in which he batted just .157. He has a great track record, and because of his down season in 2020, he likely will come cheaper than Cruz would.
Then again, Cruz will be 40 next year, so he’ll probably be signing a short-term deal. And if he hits anywhere near like he did in 2020, he would help the Cubs’ offense tremendously. In just 53 games, Cruz mashed 16 home runs for the Minnesota Twins while posting a .992 OPS, the third-highest mark of his lengthy career. That was good for sixth in American League MVP voting, tying the highest mark he’s ever reached.
Assuming the DH rule is in place in the NL for 2021, that would drive up the price for Cruz’s services as 30 teams would have a use for him rather than just 15. However, the Cubs will need help at the position, and Cruz would certainly provide it.