With the Twins in the middle of a nightmarish season, Cruz has become a natural business chip, as the 41-year-old hitter can be a free agent this winter. Cruz re-signed with Minnesota last offseason for a one-year, $ 13 million contract, and Cruz has about $ 4.87 million in salary owed.
There has been no announcement regarding cash considerations, so it looks like the Rays will take over all of Cruz’s remaining salary. This is no small feat for a Rays team that always has an eye on the budget, and even with Cruz now in the fold, the club’s payroll is still below the $ 67 million mark. Tampa Bay can (and probably will) take other steps before the July 30 deadline that could take more dollars off the books, but as it stands, the Cruz deal is a sign that the ownership of Rays is ready to stretch a bit financially to bolster a squad that looks like a contender for the return to the World Series.
Despite Cruz’s age and his apparent lack of defensive value, his bat remained so dangerous that even some National League teams would have included it in commercial considerations, with a view to deploying Cruz in the outfield for the first time. since 2018. While the Rays’ penchant for roster maximization could cause Cruz to spend at least some time in the outfield, it’s a safe bet that he will fit in as a new daily DH. from Tampa, bringing a bit of pop to a lineup that is solid overall but midrange in terms of power.
Austin Meadows had received the bulk of DH hitters from Tampa, although Meadows is now looking to enter the outfield mix with Randy Arozarena, Kevin Kiermaier, Brandon Lowe and (when he returns from IL) Manuel Margot. Lowe can also be used at second base, and between any other injuries or even trades that could come up, the Rays shouldn’t have much of a problem finding enough playing time to keep everyone fresh and ready for another. push into the playoffs.
Cruz will be part of the sixth different team in a very impressive 17-year career. Named to his seventh all-star team this season alone, Cruz shows no signs of slowing down, hitting .294 / .370 / .537 with 19 home runs in 346 home plate appearances in 2021. That production is actually a drop from the .308 /.394/.626, it released over 735 APs for Minnesota in 2019-2020, but the “decline phase” doesn’t really seem like an applicable description in this case.