With the National League adopting the designated hitter role for 2022, teams in that division scrambled to find their guy. On Sunday night, a former NL contender has found their guy, as the Washington Nationals made a big signing to kick off their off-season.
Ken Rosenthal reported that Nelson Cruz, who played for the Tampa Bay Rays last season, is heading to the Nationals on a one-year deal. Cruz will very likely fill the DH slot for the 2019 World Series winners once he passes his physical exams.
Free-agent designated hitter Nelson Cruz in agreement with Nationals on one-year contract, pending physical, source tells @TheAthletic.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 14, 2022
Cruz's 2021 season was filled with ups and downs. Prior to his trade to the Rays, Cruz was an excellent hitter for the Minnesota twins, hitting .370/..537/.907. However, after heading to the Rays, the DH slumped, plummeting to an awful .283/.442/.725. The Nationals are hoping they get the Twins version of Cruz rather than the Rays version.
The Nationals have fallen far from their 2019 highs. They won the 2019 World Series on an unbelievable playoff run that saw them knock out the Los Angeles Dodgers in the final round. Unfortunately, injuries to key players started the downfall of the team. As a result, they hit the reset button last season, trading away guys like Max Scherzer for prospects.
Juan Soto still remains in Washington, though, and he's their biggest asset heading into 2022. The outfielder is one of the best sluggers in the league today, and looks to be a key piece in the Nationals future. They are hoping that they can ride Soto and Cruz' hitting to get them out of the NL East basement.