MLB Trade Rumors, New York Mets, Washington Nationals

MLB rumors: Priced out on Josh Bell, Mets turn attention to fellow Nats slugger

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 17: Josh Bell #19 of the Washington Nationals celebrates with Nelson Cruz #23 after hitting a two-run home run in the fourth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies during game two of a doubleheader at Nationals Park on June 17, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

With Mets seemingly priced out of Josh Bell sweepstakes, the club is reportedly turning its attention towards another Nationals slugger.

Per MLB insider Jon Heyman, the New York Mets believe that the prospect cost to land Josh Bell from the Washington Nationals may be a bit too high for them.

With that being said, the club is reportedly setting its sights on another Nationals slugger, designated hitter Nelson Cruz.

As things currently stand, the Mets are atop the NL East division thanks to a 52-31 record to start the year. They are currently 3.5 games above the second-place Braves and 8.0 games above the third-place Phillies.

The Nationals, on the other hand, are bottom-feeders in the division this year, as they are just 30-55 with a -130 run differential. The club is 23.0 games out of first place and 15.0 games behind a potential Wild Card spot in the playoffs. Another selloff seems likely as the MLB trade deadline looms in just under a month.

MLB rumors: Mets likely out on Josh Bell, turning attention to Nats slugger Nelson Cruz

While the Nationals may not be in a huge hurry to trade any of their players to a division rival, that unwritten rule is likely out the window, as Washington is nowhere close to contending while the Mets are making a strong playoff push.

Cruz, 41, signed a one-year, $15MM contract with the Nationals once the MLB lockout was lifted. The contract has a $16MM option for a second season should he continue to mash the baseball as he has in years past.

In his first 77 games of the 2022 season, “Boomstick” has just eight home runs, a low number for someone who made himself into one of the game’s most feared power hitters a few years ago despite the fact that he was in his mid-to-late-30’s. Cruz does have 46 RBI already, 40 off of his full season totals from last year, so he is still producing even if he’s experiencing a power outage.

Strictly a designated hitter for the past decade-plus, Cruz would fill that exact role for the Mets in a potential trade and would serve as an immediate offensive upgrade over Dom Smith and J.D. Davis, who have split the DH at bats in recent days.

Smith, 27, is having an awful season at the plate, as he has zero home runs, a .219 batting average, and an OPS+ of just 77 through 51 games this year.

Davis, 29, looked to be a potential future stud for the Mets after strong performances at the plate in both 2019 and 2021, but he is also off to a relatively cold start. Through his first 54 games of the year, Davis has three home runs, 19 RBI and an OPS+ of 103. He has looked better than Smith but is still performing at a pace that won’t be enough to keep him in a full-time starting role down the stretch.

Fortunately for the Mets, Cruz will not require much in the way of prospects in a potential deal, making him much more attractive to a club that hopes to hold on to all of its top prospects (Alvarez, Vientos, Baty, Mauricio, Allen).

Nelson Cruz is almost 100 percent guaranteed to be wearing a different uniform a month from now. The Mets could use his veteran presence and light-tower-power in their everyday lineup as they look to make a deep postseason push.

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