Minnesota Twins, MLB Hot Stove, Tampa Bay Rays

Twins trade powerful slugger Nelson Cruz to Rays in major move for AL East race

The Tampa Bay Rays just made a seismic shift in the American League East race, acquiring designated hitter Nelson Cruz from the Minnesota Twins.

While the Rays had been connected to Nelson Cruz for quite some time, it appears a deal is finally coming to fruition.

Minnesota, in clear sell mode after falling to dead-last in the AL Central, will look to pawn off assets to refurbish their farm system. Cruz is just the first, and perhaps most obvious, to go. The 41-year-old is in the final season of his deal, and the Twins’ return largely depends on how much of his remaining salary they’re willing to pay.

The Twins acquired the Rays tenth and 17th-best prospects in return for Cruz.

MLB trade deadline: Rays acquire Nelson Cruz from Twins

Cruz adored Minneapolis and being a Twin. While he’s always been a star-caliber player, he tapped into career longevity in Minnesota by embracing his role as a DH and pure home run hitter.

“I don’t like to think about it,” Cruz said earlier this month about the prospect of leaving. “I try to think about it only when they ask me. I try to stay focused, like I said, on what I can control. I cannot control that. I’ll show up every day with that mentality to win games and be ready for the games and let other things just take care of themselves.”

Cruz will start immediately for Tampa Bay as their DH. It’s a no-brainer for them, as Austin Meadows will likely slide into another role.

Cruz is mashing .294 on the season, with 19 home runs and 50 RBIs.

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