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Nelson Cruz Traded from Twins to Rays in 4-Player Deal

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 22, 2021

Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz walks back to the dug out after hitting a pop fly for an out against the Oakland Athletics during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Minneapolis. The Athletics won 7-6. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
Craig Lassig/Associated Press

The Minnesota Twins announced Thursday they are trading designated hitter Nelson Cruz and minor league pitcher Calvin Faucher to the Tampa Bay Rays for minor league pitchers Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman

The veteran slugger just keeps hitting home runs, hitting .294 with 19 dingers, 50 RBI and a .907 OPS in 85 games this season. 

Jim Bowden⭐️ @JimBowdenGM

Erik Neander #Rays GM just texted me “Time to get the big fish” as he acquires Nelson Cruz from #Twins. Run .907 OPS with 18 HR 50 RBI in 296 AB with 2.1 War. A leader. A mentor. A winner and the games best eyebrows.

Between 2014-19, Cruz never dipped below 37 homers in a season and hit 40 or more dingers four times. Last year, he managed to leave the yard 16 times in just 53 games during the COVID-19-shortened season. 

So his power hasn't left him later in his career. 

But, with the Twins surprisingly struggling this season, going 41-55 thus far, a firesale appeared to be coming. That made a veteran like Cruz, who will be a free agent after the 2021 season, a logical piece to move. 

For the Rays, the six-time All-Star bring a much-needed power boost to the middle of the lineup, though he'll need to be utilized primarily as a designated hitter, as he doesn't offer much in the field at this point in his career. In fact, he hasn't played in the field since 2018. 

But Tampa added him for his bat. Even at 41, Cruz is still slugging. 

Cruz's acquisition should make Austin Meadows Tampa's everyday left fielder and will likely shift Randy Arozarena into right field, while Manuel Margot and Kevin Kiermaier should split time in center field.

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However those outfield permutations shake out, Cruz is an instant upgrade to a Tampa offense that very much needs the punch he'll provide to the middle of the order if they're to once again battle for a World Series title. 

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