The Tampa Bay Rays made the first major move of MLB's trade deadline season, acquiring Minnesota Twins slugger Nelson Cruz and minor league pitcher Calvin Faucher for two prospects.
Cruz, 41, remains one of the league's most impactful hitters with a slash line of .294/.370/.537 and 19 home runs. That should immediately help a Tampa lineup that ranks 13th among American League teams in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS out of the DH spot.
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
The Rays are finalizing a deal to acquire Nelson Cruz according to <a href="https://twitter.com/JeffPassan?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JeffPassan</a>. <br><br>Cruz's 19 home runs are tied for 2nd-most among designated hitters this season. While the Rays have struggled to get production from that spot ranking in the bottom 5 in AL in BA, OPS and HR <a href="https://t.co/MGffmCw1Hv">pic.twitter.com/MGffmCw1Hv</a>
Here's a look at the Rays' likely lineup with Cruz in the fold.
Tampa Bay Rays Updated Lineup and Payroll
1. Brandon Lowe, RF
2. Randy Arozarena, LF
3. Wander Franco, 3B
4. Nelson Cruz, DH
5. Austin Meadows, CF
6. Joey Wendle, 2B
7. Yandy Diaz, 1B
8. Mike Zunino, C
9. Taylor Walls, SS
Joel Sherman @Joelsherman1
This is the trade. No word in this of cash consideration. Thus the small-market <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Rays?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Rays</a> would be taking on about $5.3M of Cruz’s $13M contract for this year. <a href="https://t.co/D24JCyqePy">https://t.co/D24JCyqePy</a>
In return, the Twins received two right-handed hurlers, Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman. Ryan is the No. 10 prospect in the Rays' farm system per MLB Pipeline and has thrown 57 innings over 12 games in 2021, racking up a 3.63 ERA and 0.79 WHIP with 75 strikeouts on 10 walks issued at Triple-A Durham.
Strotman isn't far behind in the farm system. Ryan's teammate in Triple-A is the No. 17 prospect in the Rays organization and has racked up a 3.39 ERA over 58.1 innings with 62 strikeouts on 33 walks.
Once Minnesota (41-55) began sinking in the standings, moving Cruz began to feel inevitable. Even now in his 40s, Cruz remains one of baseball's most consistent hitters and a beloved teammate. He's also played in 46 postseason games, earning ALCS MVP with the Texas Rangers in 2011 after hitting six home runs with 13 RBI against the Detroit Tigers.
Now, Cruz goes from the bottom of the AL Central to a second-place Tampa team (57-39) in the AL East that's still in the race for a division title.