Has there ever been a player you really wanted the Mets to go after and now wonder what might have been? One of those players for me is Nelson Cruz. Following a good early run with the Texas Rangers, the then 32-year-old right fielder was a free agent after the 2013 season. He was no Gold Glover, but the power hitter had a rocket arm and mysteriously lingered on the free agent market. While the Mets and 28 other franchises stupidly passed him over, the Orioles pounced with a modest 1-year, $8 contract that Cruz way outperformed with a career high 40 home runs and 108 RBI. Cruz parlayed that career year into a 4-year, $57 million contract with the Mariners, who also more than got their money’s worth as the right fielder turned DH hit delivered a .906 OPS. Now, firmly entrenched as one of baseball’s premier DH’s, Cruz signed with the Twins for 2019.
Among the motley crew of players to patrol the outfield for the 2013 Mets – Marlon Byrd, Juan Lagares, Eric Young, Jr., Lucas Duda, Mike Baxter, Jordany Valdespin, Andrew Brown, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Matt den Dekker, Collin Cowgill and Rick Ankiel. Byrd led this clown car of outfielders, and the entire Mets team, with 21 home runs. The 2013 team finished 74-88. Think a 40-home run hitter in the middle of the lineup could have made a difference?
So, who is your Nelson Cruz?