With the designated hitter now in place in the National League, teams in the NL now have had to scramble to fill that spot on their rosters. This is particularly true of teams that don’t have a ready-made internal option to fill the void while the league adjusts to the new roster rules.
The Washington Nationals are an interesting case in the marketplace. One the one hand, they traded off a LOT of their best players as they transitioned towards a rebuild and that is not necessarily the sort of team expected to try to make waves in 2022. On the other hand, they really want to keep Juan Soto, one of the best players in the league, happy in the hopes of signing him to a giant contract extension that would keep him a National as they emerge from this rebuilding period. Still, it is puzzling to see Washington make the move they made late Sunday evening.
Deal includes mutual option for 2023, per source https://t.co/r1KBfw259X— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 14, 2022
It is fair to say that the Nationals were not the team that anyone expected to give 41 year old Nelson Cruz an eight figure guarantee for 2022, but that is exactly what they did as he will make at least $12 million next season. It seemed more likely that they could feasibly target another long-term, but not crazy expensive, asset to dovetail with a potential Soto extension. However, this does have the feel of a deal that should appease Soto in the short-term as it could be less than awesome for some of Soto’s best years to be played without a roster to speak of around him.
If the deal continues to work for both sides after the 2022, there is a mutual option in his contract for the 2023 season. As for Cruz, he remains a marvel that continues to produce at his age and by all accounts is highly regarded in all of his teams’ clubhouses. Here is hoping he can help shepherd the Nationals as they rebuild their roster.