By acquiring the designated batsman Nelson Cruz from the twins, the Rays led the Major League Baseball trade deadline frenzy on Thursday.
Tampa Bay sent pitchers Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman to Minnesota in exchange for Cruz, who will add immediate offense to a team that has scored in the first half of the American League. Tampa Bay also acquired minor league pitcher Calvin Faucher in the transaction.
At the same time, Minnesota started a mid-season sell-off after failing to compete in the first half.
Sports News scored the actions of the two teams.
Tampa Bay became one of the highest rents in the trade market in 2021. Cruz’s name has been circulating in the rumor factory for a few weeks, and the Rays used to be very interested in him. When Cruz became a free agent after the 2018 season, they pursued him. Instead, he signed with the twins.
Cruz’s age (41 years old) and remaining salary (approximately $5 million) are not important for a team trying to return to the World Series. The Rays won one of the best DHs in the game. Cruz entered Thursday with .294/.370/.537 slashes (.907 OPS) and led the club with 19 home runs and 50 RBIs.
It is unclear whether the twins will send cash to the Rays to pay some or all of Cruz’s salary.
Tampa Bay used a rotation in DH this year, and Austin Meadows got most of the batting opportunities, but with the addition of Cruz, this situation should change. Whether he will play on the outfield for his new team is questionable. The Rays’ active roster includes Meadows, Kevin Kilmeier, Randy Arozarena and Brett Phillips. Manuel Margot is in Illinois. If needed, infielders Brandon Lowe and Joey Wendle can play outfield.
The Minnesota team received two potential free agent rotation players. Before the transaction, in MLB Pipeline’s ranking of Rays’ top 30 prospects, Ryan was ranked 10th and Strotman was ranked 17th. Fucher has a SR of 7.04 in Double A, so the twins did not have a high level of prospects.
The 25-year-old Ryan played 57 innings in 12 games (11 starts) in Durham, with a SR of 3.63. More notably, he only allowed 35 hits, an average of 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings and 1.6 walks per nine innings. This type of command will be played at the MLB level.
The 24-year-old Stroman is not efficient, but it’s still good for Durham: In 58 1/3 innings of 13 games (12 starts), he scored 3.39 ERA and 9.6 Ks per 9 games. . However, his control is a problem: he walks 5.1 times every 9 times on average.
Minnesota’s next step: discussing deals that may involve other core components, such as third baseman Josh Donaldson, number one starter Jose Belios, and starters JA Happ and Michael Pineda.