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Washington Nationals v Minnesota Twins

Washington Nationals reportedly sign Nelson Cruz to DH in D.C.

The Nationals reportedly added a big bat to their lineup tonight... with Nelson Cruz signed to a one-year deal.

Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Both Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo and Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez talked Sunday afternoon about their plans for the designated hitter now that the DH is universal in the big leagues under the new collective bargaining agreement agreed to last week.

Rizzo, who spoke first, from the club’s spring home in West Palm Beach, FL, told reporters the team could handle the DH in a couple different ways.

“I think with the new position of DH, they could be a more versatile player. You could look at a bat only, or a guy that can play other positions,” he explained.

“We’re going to see what’s out there in the market,” Rizzo continued, “and I think that there’s a flexibility here that we have that we could bring in a DH-only type, or kind of have a hybrid — that you can have an everyday player that plays a position, and then his days off would be as a DH. So there’s different ways to attack the roster spot and the role, and we’ll see what the market delivers to us kind of to see what type of designated hitter we’re going to use.”

Martinez said after interleague play, and the DH in the NL during the pandemic, he knows how to handle things with the designated hitter, so it won’t be that big an adjustment.

“You know what, we’ve done it because we had to play sometimes with DHs,” the manager said. “We’ll see. I really like how the National League played out with the pitching, and having to make moves. Now that we’ve got a DH every day, it’s actually — after looking at it, it’s beneficial, because we get another hitter.

“We’ll see how it plays out. I’m still — I’m partial to the National League, I love how the game was, but I think this is good for baseball.”

Rizzo added at another point that he thought the club could still use some addition arms in the rotation and bullpen, and in spite of the fact that he thought the Nationals, “... had a very potent offensive season last year, pre- and post-trade deadline,” he said, “we would like to get another kind of veteran hitter that can help us score some runs, hit some home runs, and that type of thing.”

Nelson Cruz, who, at 41 years old, in his 17th big league season in 2021, hit 21 doubles and 32 home runs in 140 games and 584 plate appearances, finishing up with a combined .265/.334/.497 line in Minnesota and Tampa Bay, is the sort of veteran who can score runs and hit home runs like Rizzo said.

He has been predominantly a DH since 2017, and he provides real pop ... alongside both Juan Soto and Josh Bell in the middle of Washington’s lineup.

According to multiple reports tonight, the Nationals have signed Cruz to a 1-year deal worth $15M (depending on the report) with a mutual option for 2023.

What do you think of the club’s plans for the DH and the addition of Cruz to the lineup with Soto and Bell?

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