Somebody is going to get a really good 41-year-old hitter whenever Nelson Cruz signs with his next team. 

The seven-time All-Star is a free agent for the second straight year after splitting time in 2021 with the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays. 

He was dealt by the Twins after it became clear they would not be competitive in the American League, while the Rays were on their way to the AL's best record. 

Cruz was initially nearly as good as he ever was, though his production dipped after arriving in Tampa. 

He hit just .226/.283/.442 over the last 55 games with Tampa, but the larger sample size shows he's aged gracefully.

Of his 42.4 career WAR, Cruz has amassed 20.8 since his age-35 season.

With that in mind, let's take a look at the top landing spots for an impact player on a short-term deal.


10. New York Yankees

The Yankees were oddly quiet leading up to the Dec. 2 work stoppage. Normally major players in free agency, they watched two of the top shortstops on the market go elsewhere. 

Everyone will be watching to see what they do whenever the lockout ends. 

Cruz is probably not at the top of the Yankees' wish list. That would be shortstops Carlos Correa and Trevor Story, or perhaps 2016 National League MVP Kris Bryant. 

The Yankees, however, could stand to benefit from having Cruz on a cheaper, one-year deal. 

This is an unlikely scenario, but given the Yankees' deep pockets and lack of much free-agent activity thus far, it's worth keeping an eye on.


9. Atlanta

While the biggest questions for the reigning World Series champions center around whether franchise icon first baseman Freddie Freeman will be re-signed, and what Atlanta might do with the vacated outfield, finding an answer at DH will also be important. 

President of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos might be in favor of the kind of short-term deal Cruz would command.

Whether this makes sense for Atlanta depends almost entirely on what the plan is going forward with Marcell Ozuna. If Atlanta keeps him, he is the in-house solution at DH. If Atlanta decides to unload the $53 million he's owed, bringing in Cruz would be the next logical step. 

All of this seems unlikely but still perhaps plausible.


8. Seattle Mariners

A reunion for Cruz in Seattle should not be out of the question given the Mariners' need to add another impact bat. 

Seattle's offense had the fourth-lowest OPS in baseball last year, and signing Cruz would help with that, even if he's not the same player who signed as a free agent there seven years ago. 

The biggest splashes Seattle has made so far this offseason are signing American League Cy Young winner Robbie Ray and trading for All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier from the San Diego Padres. 

The Mariners may also be in the mix for Kris Bryant and Trevor Story. Whether they land or miss on those higher-profile free agents, Cruz could be signed for a much shorter, less expensive deal with the potential for a significant impact at the plate.