Without question, the Twins are going to be sellers at this year’s trading deadline and the result is going to be a lot of different trade rumors circling around veteran players in the weeks ahead. Last week, Tom explored an idea that would send Josh Donaldson to the Brewers in an intriguing trade scenario. Cruz will be a free agent at season’s end so his trade partners will be a little easier to identify.
First of all, the National League didn’t adopt the designated hitter for 2021, so this knocks out half of baseball’s teams right of the bat. In the American League, there are eight teams within six games of a Wild Card spot, but not all these team’s need a DH. The team at the top of the AL standings is one that has previously been interested in Cruz and the timing might be perfect for them add to the middle of their line-up.
Tampa Bay has fought their way into first place in the AL East in what might be considered baseball’s toughest division. Entering play on Monday, Boston was leading the Wild Card race with the Blue Jays and the Yankees both over .500 and in the playoff hunt. So, what’s the connection between Cruz and Tampa?
Back in 2018, Cruz was entering free agency as a 38-year-old, which doesn’t sound that intriguing. However, he had averaged over 40 home runs per season with a .897 OPS from 2014-2018. At the time, Tampa was hoping to offer Cruz a deal around $10 million. Minnesota’s offer was for $14 million in the first year with a $12 million club option in year two. The rest is history as he was named team MVP in both of his first two seasons with the club.
This past winter Tampa Bay had another opportunity to add Cruz to their line-up, but a strong market never really emerged for Cruz. Multiple teams were interested in his services, but the Twins seemed like his most logical destination from the start, especially with no NL DH. Tampa Bay, the defending AL pennant winners, rarely outbids other teams for free agents, but now might be their best opportunity to add him.
So far this season, Tampa Bay has rotated through two main players at DH, Austin Meadows and Randy Arozarena. Meadows has played the most games at DH and he has hit .233/.328/.544 with 16 extra-base hits, while Arozarena has a .717 OPS in 13 games at DH. Meadows has some defensive flexibility as he can play in the outfield as well, so adding Cruz only enhances the middle of their line-up.
Entering the season, MLB.com ranked Tampa Bay as having baseball’s number one ranked farm system. This doesn’t mean the Twins are going to steal away one of the game’s best prospects, but the Rays have organizational depth and that can help any team looking to make a deal. The market for Cruz isn’t going to be large, but a trade between the Rays and Twins makes too much sense for it not to happen.
Do you think Cruz ends up in Tampa before the trade deadline? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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