Nelson Cruz to the Braves?

Josh LevittSenior Analyst IOctober 9, 2009

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 09:  Nelson Cruz #17 of the Texas Rangers on April 9, 2009 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Braves are still looking for a right-handed power hitter. How's this idea? Nelson Cruz to the Braves:

"Anyway, here’s a name that I think will come up next week: Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz. Yes, the guy that our own Coach (of the blog, or at least he used to be, haven’t seen him around much lately) suggested Cruz as the answer a year ago.

"If the Braves had traded for him instead of signing Garret Anderson, hey, they’d have probably been a better team. But the same could be said for Bobby Abreu and other relatively low-cost options).

"But anyway, Cruz is right-handed and hit .260 with 33 homers, 20 stolen bases, and an .856 OPS in 128 games, and while his .931 OPS at hitter-friendly Arlington was a lot higher than his .778 on the road, he hit almost as many homers (15) on the road than at home (18) in virtually the same number of at-bats.

"True, he hit far better against righties (.270 with .898 OPS and 26 homers in 330 at-bats) than against lefties (.235 with .752 OPS and seven homers in 132 at-bats), but I doubt that would sway the Braves either way, if they’re interested.

"Sometimes it’s just a matter of a team wanting a big right hitter up there to make the other team think about it, to break up a bunch of lefty hitters, or vice versa. And he’s a big dude, a specimen. And the Rangers might have an extra outfielder or two and willing to part with him in a trade. Might."

From the Braves' perspective, there's lots to like about Cruz. He's a young, cheap power hitter who's not eligible for arbitration until after the 2011 season. If the Rangers ever made Cruz available, I'm sure the Braves would be banging on their door trying to acquire him.

But here's the thing: Who exactly would the Braves be prepared to part with in order to acquire Nelson Cruz? Young power hitters don't exactly come cheap. I'm sure the Rangers would be looking for premium, young, major league-ready pitching in return.

In addition, Cruz was one of the few bright spots in the Rangers lineup this season, which makes it even less likely that the Rangers will look to deal him.

Because the Braves have a surplus of starting pitchers, GM Frank Wren's goal seems to be to turn one of those starting pitchers into a big bat. Out of the six starters the Braves have right now, only two of them fit the mold of what the Rangers should (and would) be looking for: Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens.

I'll just say it right now: There's not a chance in hell the Braves trade either one of them.

So while the idea of Nelson Cruz to the Braves sounds good, I seriously doubt that it could happen. There's simply not enough incentive for the Rangers to trade Cruz unless they're overwhelmed with an offer they can't refuse.


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