Rays acquire DH Nelson Cruz from the Twins in a four-player trade
Cruz has 19 homers in 89 games for Minnesota on the season
Tampa Bay’s odds to win the World Series remain steady at +1400
The MLB trade deadline is a little over a week away. Most teams around the league know whether they plan to be buyers or sellers at this point, but the market has been rather quiet for most of the month. However, the Tampa Bay Rays fired the first salvo on Thursday when they announced the acquisition of slugger Nelson Cruz from the Minnesota Twins.
In exchange for the veteran right-handed bat, the Twins snagged a pair of Tampa Bay’s top prospects in Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman. The two pitchers ranked 10th and 17th in the Rays’ prospect rankings before the deal. The Twins also sent minor league catcher Calvin Faucher to the Rays as a part of the deal.
The news of the trade came down shortly before both teams were slated to play their games on Thursday night. Tampa Bay proceeded to beat the Cleveland Indians 5-4 in extra innings, while the Twins fell to the Los Angeles Angels, 3-2, with Cruz out of the lineup.
Cruz’s Big Bat
The 41-year-old has put up another stellar individual campaign at the plate despite his advanced age. Cruz is slashing .294/.370/.537 with 19 homers and 50 runs batted in across 89 games so far this season. There were rumors that several National League teams had their eyes on Cruz as a potential deadline target, but he will instead get to stay in the AL, where he’ll likely slot in as Tampa Bay’s everyday designated hitter.
Cruz has 436 regular-season home runs in his career, which dates back to his debut in 2005. That ranks third on the active list behind Albert Pujols (675) and Miguel Cabrera (494). He began his career in Milwaukee before flourishing as a member of the Texas Ranger teams that made it to back-to-back World Series in 2010 and 2011. He has also spent time with the Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners before signing with the Twins prior to the 2019 campaign. Cruz has added another 17 home runs in 46 career postseason games.
Minnesota was expected to be a contender in the AL Central this season, but things have quickly gone south. The Twins are just 41-56, 17.5 games behind the first-place White Sox in the AL Central. Minnesota won the division in each of the last two seasons before losing their first-round postseason series. The Twins still have not won a playoff series since winning the 1991 World Series.
With the acquisition of Nelson Cruz, the Rays are getting a thunderous bat for the middle of the order, a kinetic presence for the clubhouse and someone who can talk to Rich Hill about being a teenager in the 1990s
The Rays, meanwhile, are trying to take the next step after falling to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series last fall. Pitching has been the team’s strong suit over the past couple of years, and the addition of Cruz will give the lineup a much-needed right-handed power bat. Tampa Bay enters play Friday at 58-39 on the year, one game behind the Red Sox in the AL East.
Manager Kevin Cash said, “It’s very exciting. We’re a good team and we know we just got better by adding Nelson Cruz, one of the hottest bats out there. His presence. His leadership. I’ve known him for a long time now, and you never hear anyone say a negative thing about him, so we’re adding a high-quality hitter and a high-quality person.” Cash managed Cruz when both were with the American League All-Star team just last week.
Rays’ World Series Odds Don’t Budge
As a collective, the Rays’ right-handed bats have a middling .290 wOBA against right-handed pitching on the year, along with a .333 mark against lefties. Cruz will instantly become the most fearsome hitter in the lineup, and he should also help with the team’s strikeout issues. The Rays’ team strikeout rate of 26.4 percent on the year is the third-worst mark in the majors.
While the move will fortify Tampa Bay’s offense, the move didn’t do much to improve the team’s 2021 World Series odds. BetOnline has the Rays at +1400 to win it all this year, which still puts them behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (+380), Houston Astros (+625), Chicago White Sox (+800), San Diego Padres (+800), New York Mets (+850), Boston Red Sox (+1100), and Milwaukee Brewers (+1200).
Cruz may make his team debut on Friday for the second game of the Rays’ ongoing series in Cleveland. Tampa Bay will take on the $5.1 million in salary owed to Cruz for the remainder of the season, and he will be a free agent after the campaign.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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