Folks, we have a trade. And for a few teams, it’s a major one. Nelson Cruz is headed to the Tampa Bay Rays, eight days before the Trade Deadline.
BREAKING: The Tampa Bay Rays are finalizing a deal to acquire slugger Nelson Cruz from the Minnesota Twins, sources tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 22, 2021
Cruz, 41, is still doing what he does: raking. Although he’s a pure DH, the guy is hitting .294/.370/.537 (141 wRC+), and clearly improves the Rays lineup. This is a major move over there in the AL East.
You never know how a move like this can shake other things loose. Perhaps this is the Twins opening up their floodgates, which will spur them into further action, and cause downstream talks to open up among other teams. Perhaps the Rays were in on a couple players with similar prospect costs (and/or salary), and this move closes a door with them that opens it for a different buyer. Maybe the Red Sox decide it is time to pull the trigger on a move so they don’t miss out. Maybe the Yankees decide there are just going to be too many teams ahead of the to realistically buy. And so on.
We’ll also see what kind of return the Twins were able to pull for a Cruz rental. There’s not a ton of “market information” provided, given Cruz’s very unique skill set, but I’m always curious to see, generally, what the rental position player market is doing.
UPDATE: Here’s the full trade:
#MNTwins complete trade with Tampa Bay Rays.
Club acquires right-handed minor league pitchers Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman, in exchange for designated hitter Nelson Cruz and right-handed minor league pitcher Calvin Faucher.
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) July 22, 2021
That’s quite a return! Strotman and Ryan are both top 15-ish prospects in the loaded Rays system (best in baseball, arguably), and Faucher – going to the Rays – appears to be a pure lottery ticket. Cruz is one of the best DH’s out there, but obviously there are limitations there. So getting two quality system prospects for a rental? Seems like the Rays were willing to step up to make sure they got Cruz, and the Twins were wise to jump.