The Tampa Bay Rays have acquired DH Nelson Cruz and RHP Calvin Faucher from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for RHPs Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman.
The Rays AL East title push starts now. The thing the team really lacked was a truly elite hitter. Even at his age, Cruz is still that. He has the power, discipline, and the ability to hit absolute rockets. In 2021, Cruz has a 93.2 mph average exit velocity with a .387 xwOBA. His K-rate is down to 18.2 percent while his walk rate is still over ten percent. While he may be limited to the dugout for half of the game — Cruz hasn’t played the outfield since 2018 — his offense makes the trade worth it. This could be his last season, as Cruz’s contract will expire at the end of the season. Faucher was a 10th round pick in 2017 but has rough minor-league numbers. He does rack up strikeouts despite a high walk count.
Cruz, 41, has hit 19 home runs with a .370 OBP and a .907 OPS in 346 Plate Appearances for the Twins in 2021. In his MLB career for the Twins, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, and Milwaukee Brewers, Cruz has hit 436 homers with a .348 OBP and an OPS of .878 in 7499 Plate Appearances.
Faucher, 25, has a 7.04 ERA with 42 strikeouts and a 2.054 WHIP in 30.2 innings for AA Wichita in 2021. In his minor league career, Faucher has a 4.64 ERA with 178 strikeouts and a 1.604 WHIP in 159 innings pitched.
The unexpected collapse of the Twins has made them sellers at this year’s trade deadline. While Cruz is a guy who is hard not to like, this is the right move. In return, Minnesota picks up two solid arms. Both Ryan and Strotman throw hard and could be in the majors as soon as this year. A 2018 7th rounder, MLB Pipeline had Ryan as Tampa Bay’s 10th best prospect, while Strotman, a 2017 4th, is 17th. Both have been starters in the minors. Ryan has a ton of strikeouts with great control and Strotman has struggled with walks this season. Neither team got shafted in this deal at all.
Ryan, 25, has a 3.63 ERA with 75 strikeouts, 10 walks, and a 0.789 WHIP in 57 innings for AAA Durham this year. In his minor league career, Ryan has a 2.70 ERA with 309 strikeouts and 51 walks in 217 innings.
Strotman, 24, has a 3.39 ERA with 62 strikeouts and 33 walks in 58.1 innings for Durham in 2021. In his minor league career, Strotman has a 3.12 ERA with 171 strikeouts and 72 walks in 179 innings pitched.