At age 40, Nelson Cruz has picked up right where he left off in 2020. In 63 games thus far in 2021, Cruz owns a .936 OPS and leads the Minnesota Twins in home runs and RBI. Set to become a free agent at the end of the season, Cruz figures to be a prime trade piece for the Minnesota Twins this July. Cruz provides a middle-of-the order bat that many teams look for as they beef up for a playoff run. What the Twins have working against themselves, though, in looking for a trade partner is the nature of Nelson Cruz’s position. As a designated hitter, the list of potential suitors for Cruz is automatically cut in half to be just American League teams. From there, you trim down the list to only the contending teams, and suddenly there aren’t many teams left who would be interested in Cruz. Nevertheless, a Nelson Cruz trade makes a ton of sense for the Twins and we’re going to find some potential trade options for him.
In laying out trade proposals for Nelson Cruz, we will use Baseball Trade Values. BTV is a website that assigns a point total of “value” to all Major and Minor Leaguers, and based on those point values assesses whether a trade would be accepted or not. Baseball Trade Values is certainly not an imperfect resource, but it gives an objective way to start the trade conversation and provide a starting point for a trade proposal. With that being said…
Trade Proposal #1:
The first trade proposal for Nelson Cruz would be a deal sending the designated hitter to the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto figures to have a lot of interest in the 40-year-old Cruz, as their .622 team OPS from the designated hitter position is 2nd worst in the American League. As a team, the Blue Jays are 36-35 and 5.5 games back from a wild card spot. With a masher like Cruz being implemented into the lineup, the Blue Jays would have a real shot at making their first postseason appearance since 2016.
Coming back to the Minnesota Twins, the Toronto Blue Jays would send two of their top-20 prospects in RHP Adam Kloffenstein and RHP T.J. Zeuch. Kloffenstein is the Toronto Blue Jays’ 9th ranked prospect and is still just 20 years old. Kloffenstein was a 3rd round draft pick as a high school pitcher and throws a solid fastball with a good curveball and slider. In low-A in 2019, the right hander posted a 2.24 ERA in 64.1 innings. In addition to Kloffenstein, the Twins would acquire AAA pitcher, T.J. Zeuch. Zeuch is the Blue Jays’ 26th ranked prospect and at the age of 25 is Major League ready. In 49 career innings in the Majors, Zeuch owns a 4.59 ERA, but his 6-foot-7 frame and quality slider could turn him into a quality reliever in the Majors.
Trade Proposal #2:
Another contending team that has struggled from the DH position this season has been the Twins’ central division foes, the Chicago White Sox. The Sox are currently getting a .707 OPS this season from the DH spot, the 6th worst mark in the American League. While the White Sox are leading the AL Central, they have dropped 5 games in a row, and will likely be looking to tie up the loose ends of their roster in preparation for a playoff run. One of those loose ends could be DH, and Nelson Cruz could be the name that makes the most sense.
In return for Nelson Cruz, one name the Twins could be looking at is single-A middle infield prospect, Jose Rodriguez. At the age of 20, Rodriguez is still an extremely raw prospect, but he has the upside to be a cornerstone in the middle infield one day. Rodriguez ranks as the White Sox #15 prospect, but could move up the ranks quickly. With not much pipeline depth at middle infield, Rodriguez could be a nice prize for the Twins to get back in exchange for Cruz.
Trade Proposal #3:
Locked into a tight AL West division race with the Houston Astros, the Oakland Athletics will be looking to bolster their lineup with some much needed pop, as the Athletics have received a sub-.700 OPS from their DH position this season. Nelson Cruz would naturally fill in for a struggling Mitch Moreland and give the A’s the help they need.
In return, the Athletics would send the Twins their 8th ranked prospect, RHP Jeff Criswell. At 22 years old, Criswell was a 2nd round pick in 2022 and owns a fastball that sticks in the mid-90s. With a farm system fighting through injuries this season, a pitching prospect would be a big deal for the Minnesota Twins, and Criswell could be the perfect fit.
Which of the 3 trade proposals above would you like best for Nelson Cruz? Given the likely trade returns for the Twins’ DH do you think the Twins are better off hanging onto him? Leave a comment below and start the conversation.