Rays trade for Nelson Cruz as Twins sell

Tampa Bay Rays acquire designated hitter Nelson Cruz from Minnesota Twins. The deal marks the start of major deals ahead of MLB’s July 30 trade deadline.

Minnesota begins a massive sell-off in July by grabbing two leads from the loaded Rays system.

An ageless wonder, Cruz remains one of the best hitters in the league at 41. He resigned with the Twins on a one-year, $ 13 million contract over the winter, believing he would help them get another playoff run.

Instead, Minnesota’s season quickly came to an end in 2021. An abject disaster of one spring made Cruz’s ever-productive bat too attractive an asset to hold onto. The beloved slugger is considered a great mentor to young players in addition to his striking prowess. The Twins could still be active by offering more talent to the contenders – Michael Pineda and Andrelton Simmons are in the last years of their contracts, and rumors have also swirled around young stars José Berríos and Byron Buxton.

The Rays take their first swing in the AL East race

The Rays, the defending AL champions, currently hold the league’s best wild card spot and are only one game away from the Boston Red Sox entering Thursday night’s games. As usual, they are successful with one of the smallest budgets in MLB. Cruz – whose expiring contract helped make him an option for Tampa – will immediately be the team’s highest-paid player. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand Reports Rays Took Remainder Of Cruz’s Salary, Around $ 5 Million.

He’ll give a boost to an offense that hits more than any other in baseball and hovers around the league average. For his part, Cruz has the lowest strikeout rate of his career and has been particularly productive since early June, slashing by 0.321 / 0.406 / 0.582 in the period that coincided with the MLB crackdown on pitchers using sticky substances.

The lineup upgrade will come with some playing time. Austin Meadows, who has won the lion’s share of DH plate appearances for the Rays, will likely return to a more regular role on the corner. Manuel Margot (who was 2% worse than the league average as an OPS + hitter in 2021) and center-field defensive magician Kevin Kiermaier (18% worse than the league average) are the most likely to feel the pressure.

Nelson Cruz would be heading to the Tampa Bay Rays. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn / Minnesota Twins / Getty Images)

Does this change the ratings of AL East?

There’s plenty of time left before the trade deadline, but the Rays’ decision to complete their offense is notable as the Red Sox try to keep the lead in the division while getting almost no offensive production from some key points in the game. alignment, especially first base.

Boston thinks they get a major no-move boost via the return of ace Chris Sale, but Tampa Bay’s +140 odds of winning AL East at BetMGM are expected to change as Cruz’s ultra-reliable production is taken into account.

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