MLB trade grade: Rays level up and acquire Nelson Cruz from Twins

Minnesota Twins, MLB Hot Stove, MLB Trade Rumors, Tampa Bay Rays

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Taking a look at the trade that sent Nelson Cruz from the Minnesota Twins to the Tampa Bay Rays.

The MLB trade deadline is a week away, which means that teams need to determine whether they are buying or selling — quickly. For the Tampa Bay Rays, they are obvious buyers at the deadline, as they sit right behind the Boston Red Sox for first-place in the AL East. The Minnesota Twins, on the other hand, sit in fourth in the AL Central, and are nowhere near contenders. So, both sides agreed to make a deal.

On Thursday, the Rays acquired slugging designated hitter Nelson Cruz and right-handed minor league pitcher Calvin Faucher to the Twins in exchange for right-handed minor league pitchers Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman.

With the trade official, let’s hand out some grades to both organizations.

Nelson Cruz contract details

First, let’s get a look at why Cruz was being traded, besides the fact that the Twins are well out of the postseason hunt.

After a solid two years with the Twins, Cruz sat on the open market for quite some time, mostly due to the uncertainty surrounding the universal designated hitter. In February, Cruz signed a one-year, $13 million contract to remain in Minnesota. So, Cruz is scheduled to test free agency at the conclusion of this campaign.

Rays Grade: B+

Approaching the deadline, the Rays needed to add a big-name slugger to their roster. As of this writing on Thursday, Tampa Bay own a team slugging percentage of .398, which ranks as 16th in the majors, per MLB.com. Compare that to the first-place Red Sox, who own a slugging percentage of .445, second-best in all of MLB.

The Rays will see that percentage uptick with the addition of Cruz. Through 85 games, Cruz is slashing .294/.370/.537 while recording 19 home runs, 50 RBI, 44 runs scored and 87 hits.

With the Rays losing two pitching prospects, it only makes sense to gain one in the form of Faucher.

It really is simple — the Rays had a need and addressed it a week prior to the deadline. Way to not procrastinate.

Twins Grade: A

All we can say is great job to the Twins. They had a 41-year-old slugger who was set to hit the open market at the end of the 2021 campaign, and cashed in on two solid pitching prospects from one of the best farm systems in the majors.

Joe Ryan ranked as the 10th-overall prospect in Tampa Bay’s pipeline, and he has skyrocketed into the Twins’ sixth-overall prospect. Through 12 games at Triple-A Durham, Ryan has recorded a 3.63 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and 75 strikeouts over 57 innings of work. Best of all? Ryan is pro-ready.

Drew Strotman, Tampa’s 17th-overall prospect, now ranks at 13th in Minnesota. Through 13 games at Triple-A Durham, Strotman tallied a 3.39 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 62 strikeouts and 33 walks in 58.1 innings of work.

The Twins turned Cruz into two solid pitching prospects. That is a great deal for them, and can now pivot to flipping the likes of Josh Donaldson or Jose Berrios to further bolster their farm system.

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