Chicago White Sox Rumors: Is Nelson Cruz a good fit?

Chicago White Sox (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Chicago White Sox (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /

Chicago White Sox rumors link the team to Nelson Cruz, but is that a good idea?

As Thanksgiving Day draws nigh, the Major League Baseball Hot Stove is heating up along with Chicago White Sox rumors. Overnight, word came out that the White Sox are among a handful of teams that are interested in pursuing free-agent slugger Nelson Cruz.

Cruz, who played for the Seattle Mariners last year, will be entering his 15th season in the major leagues. He would no doubt add a ton of punch to any lineup, but does he make sense for the White Sox, who are looking to accelerate their rebuild with a few impact players this season? We take a look at the pros and cons.

Why Cruz makes a lot of sense

Look, when fans and critics talk about the premier hitters in the game today, Cruz’s name isn’t usually at or near the top of that list. However, he has been one of the more potent and consistent hitters over his career, and more specifically over the last five seasons.

Over his career, his 162-game averages are .274 BA, 37 HRs, 104 RBI, and a .860 OPS. Over the last five seasons, he’s slugging an average of .281 BA, 40 HRs, 104 RBI.

Those stats are extremely impressive. They’re even more impressive when you consider the White Sox leaders last season in those three categories were, .275 BA, 27 HRs, and 78 RBI.

He would certainly add a big right-handed bat to the White Sox lineup. He would also, in theory, provide a tremendous boost to either Jose Abreu or Yoan Moncada, each of whom would benefit greatly from having Cruz batting behind him.

Cruz would instantly make the White Sox lineup not only more dangerous but a lot longer. Consequently, it would be much more difficult to pitch around.

Why the White Sox should pass

If the White Sox truly want to make a splash and accelerate their rebuild, they should be looking to add a player like Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. Machado and Harper are both younger and Machado plays a premium position, whereas Cruz will be almost exclusively a DH. But those players are not going to come cheap, so the Sox need to maximize every penny.

As previously mentioned, Cruz will be entering his 15th season. While it’s remarkable that he’s still putting up these kinds of numbers, you have to think at his age, he is due to slow down. In fact, he has seen a decline in home runs in each of the last five seasons.

Additionally, this will likely be his last contract, so he’s going to want to maximize its worth. So if you’re the White Sox, can you justify paying a 38-year-old player, who will only DH, north of $10 million per season? Perhaps if they are no longer in the Machado or Harper sweepstakes, but it better be for a short term. The last thing you want as a Sox fan is to be paying an aging, one-dimensional veteran that kind of money — especially if the injury bug creeps up.

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Bottom Line

If the White Sox strike out on Machado and Harper, then it might make sense to bring in a thumper like Cruz, but only on a short-term deal for a reasonable price.