Because the Twins’ depressing season continues, there’s been growing speak of them working as a deadline vendor over the subsequent three weeks. Almost each contender will ask about Jose Berrios. There’s been hypothesis concerning the availability of Taylor Rogers. Josh Donaldson has been linked to the Mets. Michael Pineda is a pending free agent who might assist fairly just a few rotations.
Over the course of the subsequent few weeks, although, Nelson Cruz will probably be one of many highest-impact commerce candidates to observe. The seemingly ageless slugger is having yet one more wonderful season, slashing .299/.372/.553 (147 wRC+) with 18 dwelling runs, 11 doubles and his first triple since 2018. Cruz’s 18.8 p.c strikeout charge is the bottom it’s been since 2010. He simply celebrated his forty first birthday, however he stays one of many sport’s prime threats on the plate.
Cruz is a free agent at season’s finish, enjoying out the 2021 marketing campaign on a one-year, $13M contract. As of this writing, there’s about $6M remaining to be paid out on that pact. By the point the deadline rolls round, Cruz will probably be owed about $4.5M for the rest of the season.
A bat of Cruz’s caliber will certainly be in demand however maybe to not the extent one would think about at first look. As a pure designated hitter, he’ll face a extra restricted market than most commerce candidates.
A Nationwide League membership might technically purchase Cruz to DH throughout interleague play and function a vastly overqualified pinch-hitter, however it’s unlikely anybody goes to place Cruz within the outfield with any regularity. He hasn’t performed an inning of protection since 2018 and has simply 54 innings within the discipline because the conclusion of the 2016 marketing campaign. It’s arduous to ever totally rule one thing out as entrance places of work get more and more artistic, however it appears overwhelmingly doubtless that if Cruz is moved, it’ll be to an American League membership.
After all, not all 14 American League golf equipment will probably be in play. Not one of the Rangers, Royals, Tigers or Orioles are in rivalry. The Angels aren’t going to displace Shohei Ohtani from the DH slot, nor will the Astros achieve this with Yordan Alvarez. The Yankees have Giancarlo Stanton serving as a major DH. The Purple Sox are having fun with the heck out of a resurgent J.D. Martinez marketing campaign. The Indians have Franmil Reyes, and the Twins might not need to ship Cruz to a division rival anyhow.
On that be aware, it’s value stating that there’s an honest match with the AL Central-leading White Sox. Yermin Mercedes pale significantly after a torrid begin to the season and was optioned to Triple-A this week. Then once more, the Sox have Eloy Jimenez on a rehab project, and he’s prone to see at the very least a while at DH as he eases again into the combination after surgical procedure to restore a ruptured pectoral tendon. It’s additionally usually arduous to think about the Twins buying and selling Cruz to the White Sox as a way to assist the South Siders seal up a division title for which Minnesota initially hoped to contend.
There are just a few golf equipment that appear just like the clearest matches if the Twins transfer Cruz. Right here’s a have a look at what every of those groups has acquired from the DH spot in its lineup in 2021, adopted by a extra thorough have a look at the potential match.
- Athletics: .220/.289/.381, 88 wRC+
- Rays: .226/.314/.411, 103 wRC+
- Blue Jays: .240/.321/.429, 104 wRC+
- Mariners: .237/.320/.421, 108 wRC+
Athletics: No contender within the American League might use a DH improve greater than Oakland. The offseason signing of Mitch Moreland has resulted in a .238/.286/.388 batting line by means of 175 plate appearances so far. As a workforce, the A’s rank twelfth in MLB with 394 runs scored — 94 fewer runs than the MLB-leading Astros, the workforce Oakland occurs to be chasing within the division.
The query with the A’s, as at all times, is considered one of payroll capability. For many of this previous offseason, it seemed as if the A’s wouldn’t spend a lot of something on the 2021 roster. Their late signings of Moreland, Sergio Romo, Yusmeiro Petit and Trevor Rosenthal boosted payroll as much as $86M — nonetheless nicely under the league common however not fairly the threadbare ranges seen in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Cleveland. Whether or not possession would dish out one other a number of million to lease Cruz for two-plus months stays to be seen, however even when the wage is deemed steep, the A’s might at all times pay slightly extra by way of prospect capital as a way to get Minnesota to cowl some (or all) of the contract.
Rays: The monetary ingredient is maybe much more notable with the Rays, that are at the moment working on only a $62M payroll. Tampa Bay additionally has a greater in-house choice than Oakland within the type of Austin Meadows. The 26-year-old Meadows can and has performed some nook outfield this season, however the Rays have extra defensively gifted choices in Kevin Kiermaier, Manuel Margot, Randy Arozarena and Brett Phillips.
Meadows has been the membership’s major designated hitter this yr, logging 53 p.c of the the Rays’ complete DH plate appearances. On the entire, Meadows has been a productive hitter with a .243/.335/.485 batting line, 16 dwelling runs, 23 doubles and a triple. Nonetheless, he’s been mired in a down stretch on the plate, batting .231/.300/.374 over the previous month. Cruz is an improve even over Meadows at his very best, however the Rays’ “want” for Cruz feels much less acute than that of the Athletics.
Blue Jays: Including Cruz to a lineup that already options Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, George Springer and Marcus Semien doesn’t actually really feel truthful. Bringing Cruz into the fold would doubtless push Randal Grichuk again right into a fourth outfielder position behind Springer, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez. Early within the yr, it could’ve been troublesome to justify taking at-bats from Grichuk. He bought out to a blistering begin, batting .289/.322/.497 by means of the primary two months. For the reason that calendar flipped to June, nonetheless, Grichuk is hitting .220/.244/.423 with a 29.1 p.c strikeout charge in 127 plate appearances.
The Jays’ precedence up to now has been the bullpen, and that can doubtless proceed to be some extent of focus for basic supervisor Ross Atkins. That mentioned, it by no means hurts to additional strengthen an already potent lineup. If the prospect value for Cruz is to the Jays’ liking, they’re one of many few AL golf equipment that’s each contending and has a straightforward path to carve out common at-bats for the “Boomstick.” In contrast to the A’s and Rays, cash shouldn’t be a difficulty for them.
Mariners: A Cruz reunion tour with an surprising contender in Seattle would make for a enjoyable story for the ultimate months of the season. Seattle is way from a postseason lock, however the Mariners are 4 video games over .500 and simply three and a half video games out of a wild-card spot. A lot of the main focus surrounding the Mariners has been on whether or not they’ll commerce Mitch Haniger, but when they proceed their sizzling streak — they’re 15-7 over their previous 22 video games — this can be a membership that might really look so as to add some items.
The main focus for Seattle would in all probability be on extra controllable gamers who may help in 2022 and past. Beginning pitching, particularly, would be the Mariners’ major want — as supervisor Scott Servais instructed this week. If the Mariners can purchase Cruz with out paying a value they really feel will compromise a really promising long-term outlook, he’s a wise improve. The transfer can be overwhelmingly standard with followers, and the Mariners have taken a potpourri method at designated hitter this yr anyhow. Ty France leads the workforce with a good 100 plate appearances as a DH, however he might be slotted into the lineup usually at first base/second base for the steadiness of the 2021 marketing campaign.