Nelson Cruz reaches 1-year, $15M deal with Washington Nationals, source says

Free-agent slugger Nelson Cruz and the Washington Nationals have reached agreement on a one-year, $15 million deal, a source told ESPN's Enrique Rojas, confirming multiple reports.

The contract includes a mutual option for 2023; Cruz will earn $12 million in 2022 and will receive an additional $3 million if the club does not exercise the option.

The 41-year-old Cruz has 449 career home runs and becomes the first full-time DH to join a National League team since MLB's new labor deal included a universal designated hitter.

Cruz is returning for an 18th major league season. He hit .265 with 32 home runs and 86 RBIs with the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays in 2021, becoming the oldest player in major league history (41) to hit 30 home runs in a season. He passed David Ortiz (38 in 2016) and Darrell Evans (34 in 1987), who were both 40 when they hit the mark.

A seven-time All-Star, Cruz is a career .277 hitter with 1,238 RBIs for the Milwaukee Brewers, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Twins and Rays.

The NL used the DH during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. The new labor agreement that owners and players reached Thursday brings the extra hitter to the NL for every game, including the World Series.

Cruz has hit 18 home runs in 50 postseason games. The Rays acquired him from Minnesota last July 22 in their push toward the playoffs.

Some NL teams might rotate the DH spot, letting several players fill the role in order to give them a day off from playing the field. Other clubs might want a permanent solution, and Cruz certainly fills that role.

Cruz made one start in the field last year -- playing first base for the first time in his career, he made a nifty pickup on a bounced throw to end the first inning at Philadelphia. He delivered a tiebreaking, two-run double in the eighth to win that game.

Prior to that, his previous time with a mitt was 2018 when he made four starts in right field for Seattle.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.