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Rays acquire Nelson Cruz from Twins

A’s miss out on a great trade target

91st MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard Photo by Matt Dirksen/Colorado Rockies/Getty Images

The 2021 MLB trade deadline got its first big move on Thursday. It didn’t involve the Oakland A’s, but it did take one potential target off the board.

The Minnesota Twins announced that they traded DH Nelson Cruz to the Tampa Bay Rays, in a four-player deal involving three minor leaguers.

  • Rays get: DH Nelson Cruz, and pitching prospect Calvin Faucher
  • Twins get: pitching prospects Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman

The 57-39 Rays are currently second place in the AL East division, one game behind the Boston Red Sox. If the season ended today, Tampa Bay would win the First Wild Card and host the A’s in a one-game playoff. The Rays already had a good DH in Austin Meadows, but he can also play the corner outfield.

Cruz would have been an attractive target for Oakland, as I detailed earlier this week. The A’s have the worst DH production in the league this year, and for various reasons Cruz’s trade cost had a chance to be a bargain relative to the impact of his skills. Between the extra-large marginal increase at that specific position, and hopefully a low prospect price, he presented a strong value.

But he made almost as much sense for the Rays, no strangers to shrewd value themselves, and they had more to offer from their farm. In fact, the price they ended up paying turned out much higher than expected, per Baseball Trade Values, especially since there hasn’t yet been any report of the Twins sending cash for Cruz’s salary. Looking at it this way, the A’s were going to get outbid no matter what, as they couldn’t reasonably match this offer.

The deadline is July 30 this year, since July 31 is a Saturday, so there are eight more days remaining for clubs to make trades.