Seattle Mariners: What’s on their post-lockout to-do list

Seattle Mariners logos help set the scene in the Seattle Terrace dining and shopping area of the Flight of Dreams complex in Japan.636747024810893983-20-Seattle-Mariners-logos-help-set-the-scene-in-Seattle-Terrace-dining-and-shoppoig-area-of-the-Flight-of-Dreams-complex-in-Japan.-Photo-Harriet-Baskas.JPG
Seattle Mariners logos help set the scene in the Seattle Terrace dining and shopping area of the Flight of Dreams complex in Japan.636747024810893983-20-Seattle-Mariners-logos-help-set-the-scene-in-Seattle-Terrace-dining-and-shoppoig-area-of-the-Flight-of-Dreams-complex-in-Japan.-Photo-Harriet-Baskas.JPG /
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SEATTLE, WA – SEPTEMBER 30: Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners hands out souvenirs after the final game of the season against the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field on September 30, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners won the game 3-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA – SEPTEMBER 30: Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners hands out souvenirs after the final game of the season against the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field on September 30, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners won the game 3-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /

The Seattle Mariners have room to add another right-handed power bat

With left-handed bats J.P. Crawford, Adam Frazier, Jarred Kelenic, and Jake Fraley currently penciled in to starting roles, the Mariners could use another right-handed bat with pop to pair with outfielders Kyle Lewis and Mitch Haniger as well as breakout infielder Ty France.

There are still a handful of bats out there to fill a designated hitter/emergency outfield spot on this Mariners club as Jorge Soler, Khris Davis, and even Albert Pujols all remain available. What about old friend Nelson Cruz?

Cruz is 41 years young and still kicking, showing no real signs of slowing down. He split time in 2021 between the Twins and Rays, hitting 32 home runs and posting 2.0 WAR and a 122 wRC+. While those numbers aren’t perfectly on par with his previous performances, they’re still above-average and he remains one of the most-feared power hitters in the Major Leagues, despite the fact that he is also the oldest.

A member of the Seattle Mariners from 2015-2018, Nelson Cruz is a familiar face who had four excellent seasons with the club and is a proven high-profile power bat who hits very well against AL West opponents.

The fit on paper between the Mariners and Cruz is there and the familiarity between team and player may even give them a slight edge over other teams competing for his services. There will be much more widespread interest in the slugger this offseason, as the universal DH is expected to be passed in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and the league.

Should the M’s bring Nelson Cruz aboard, there would have to be some shifting done in their current defensive alignments. As things currently stand, outfielder Kyle Lewis is set to be the designated hitter on opening day with Jake Fraley, Jarred Kelenic, and Mitch Haniger manning the outfield spots from left to right. The addition of Cruz would push Lewis back to the outfield, most likely in center field, with Kelenic shifting to left field, effectively making Jake Fraley an oft-used fourth outfielder.