MLB trade deadline: rating of Nelson Cruz acquisition
Eight days before the MLB trade deadline, the reigning American League champions have taken a big step forward to return to the Fall Classic.
The Rays pulled off the first successful trade of the season, acquiring designated hitter Nelson Cruz as part of a four-man deal with the Twins. The deal bolsters the Rays’ midfield roster into one of the league’s best, while officially signaling a sell-off by Minnesota, which has been one of baseball’s most disappointing clubs.
As Boomstick heads to Florida, it’s time to issue some trade notes.
The rays acquire: DH Nelson Cruz and RHP Calvin Faucher
Twins acquire: RHP Joe Ryan and RHP Drew Strotman
Assessment of the Tampa Bay side of the agreement
The Rays are in the middle of a close division battle with four teams competing in them, so they’ve done well to come out of a potential arms race and land perhaps the best bat available in the trade market. . Cruz instantly becomes the top hitter of this roster, although this decision creates a bit of a stalemate for a team that regularly roams a vast collection of bats. Losing flexibility in DH is a small price to pay for a powerful hitter of Cruz’s caliber, and manager Kevin Cash probably won’t mind the compromise.
Austin Meadows had the most playing time in DH this year, but spent almost as much time in left field. A move there would move Randy Arozarena to right field and likely mean less playing time for Kevin Kiermaier and Manuel Margot. Other complications arise as to how to get routine playtime for guys like Yandy Diaz, Ji-Man Choi, and Brett Phillips, but that’s quite a first world problem.
Faucher, the other comeback in the deal, is a 25-year-old who has amassed a 7.04 ERA in 30.2 Double-A innings this season, all in relief. The cost for Cruz is a pair of minor league weapons that could have helped Tampa Bay this season. Strotman and Ryan have each spent their entire season at Triple-A, working almost exclusively as starters. The pair, ranked 17th and 18th respectively in the Tampa Bay system by FanGraphs, represented the organization’s best starting pitching prospects in senior minors, putting a damper on the club’s depth for the foreseeable future. .
But for this season, Tampa Bay has dealt with an area of strength to remedy an area of relative weakness, and it’s hard to imagine another contender improving his offense to that degree all at once like the Rays did. did Thursday. The Red Sox, Yankees and Blue Jays are expected to stock up in the coming days, and they would have the chance to do as well as the reigning pennant winners.
Note Minnesota’s share of the agreement
Few could have predicted when Cruz resigned with Minnesota five months ago that his tenure with the Twins would end like this. Minnesota entered this season with World Series aspirations, but fell well short of the mark, and a sale near the trade deadline was almost assured.
By all accounts, Cruz is a beloved figure within the Twins organization and respected throughout the league. While swapping him now makes perfect sense in the world strategically, it’s a blow to the team and Cruz himself, who described having had to leave Minnesota as “heartbreaking”Speaking to reporters on Thursday.
Given Cruz’s status as a pending free agent, the Twins have had a solid comeback, especially for a team with one of the worst starting rotations in all of baseball. Staff ace José Berríos is set to be a free agent after the 2022 season, while Michael Pineda is in his final year on contract and could also be traded in the next week. Matt Shoemaker and JA Happ have been disastrous and will both be free agents this winter. So the Twins will desperately need a controllable starting pitcher, whether or not they aim to compete in 2022.
Strotman underwent surgery at Tommy John in 2018 and barely pitched in 2019 before losing the entire 2020 season – like all minor leaguers – to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 13 Triple-A games this year (12 starts), the 24-year-old has a 3.39 ERA with 62 strikeouts and just three homers allowed in 58.1 innings.
Ryan, 25, has 309 strikeouts and just 51 walks in 217 career minor league innings, with a career ERA of 2.70. A former water polo player who currently throws for the United States team at the Olympics, Ryan’s used his unorthodox throwing movement to propel himself to the door of a promotion in the big leagues (and put himself in the search for a gold medal in the process).
The fact that the Twins were able to recover two nearly big-league starting pitchers for two months against Nelson Cruz when they have been out of action for a long time is a victory for the future of the organization. Combine this with Cruz’s comments that he “absoutely”Consider re-signing with Minnesota this offseason, and that’s about an ideal outcome. What holds this note is that the deal had to be done first.
Rating: B +
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