Washington Nationals slugger Nelson Cruz is on the "radar" of the New York Mets, according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post.
Heyman cited the Mets' need for another hitter but said the cost for Nationals first baseman Josh Bell may be too high. Cruz, on the other hand, could be a more attainable target.
The 42-year-old signed a one-year, $15 million deal with Washington that includes a $16 million option for 2023. The Nats are last in the National League East at 30-54, so it's safe to assume he'll be playing elsewhere before the Aug. 2 trade deadline.
Matt Weyrich @ByMattWeyrich
Nationals weren’t willing to deal their big-name stars Scherzer or Turner to the Mets at the trade deadline last year. Would they be more open to trading Nelson Cruz to their division rival this year? Seems plausible. <a href="https://t.co/O9RmnNGIA1">https://t.co/O9RmnNGIA1</a>
Cruz isn't mashing the ball at his usual rate. Through 76 games, he has eight home runs, 46 RBI and a .241/.322/.369 slash line. His 101 OPS+ is on pace to be his lowest since 2007, per Baseball Reference.
The four-time Silver Slugger winner has been a worse hitter on the road (.665 OPS) than at Nationals Park (.708 OPS) as well.
Still, trading for Cruz in the hope a change of scenery will boost his production makes sense for the Mets or another contending team.
Per FanGraphs, New York is tied for ninth in wOBA (.319) and sixth in wRC+ (111). Acquiring Cruz wouldn't guarantee the team a World Series triumph, but it could provide enough of a jolt to the offense to widen the 2.5-game gap on the second-place Atlanta Braves within the division.