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Rays acquire slugger Nelson Cruz in 4-player trade with Twins

Cruz has hit .294 with 19 home runs and 50 RBI this season
Nelson Cruz (Via AP).jpeg
Posted at 9:32 PM, Jul 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-22 21:32:00-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays acquired slugger Nelson Cruz from the Minnesota Twins on Thursday in a four-player trade.

In the deal, the Rays also add minor league right-handed pitcher Calvin Faucher from the Twins for right-handed pitcher Drew Strotman and minor league right-handed pitcher Joe Ryan.

Cruz, 41, has hit 436 home runs over 17 seasons in the majors, which ranks 46th in major league history and third among active players behind Albert Pujols (675) and Miguel Cabrera (494). Since 2014, his 279 home runs are the most in the majors, ahead of Mike Trout (248) and Nolan Arenado (243). He has reached 30 home runs seven times in his career and 20 home runs 11 times, all since 2009—no other player has reached 20 homers more than nine times over that stretch.

In 85 games with the Twins this season, Cruz hit .294/.370/.537 (87-for-296) with 19 home runs and 50 RBI. He ranks among American League leaders in avg. (10th), slugging pct. (sixth) and on-base plus slugging (.907, eighth). He was selected to the AL All-Star Team for the seventh time (2009, 2013-15, 2017-18) and pinch-hit in the 9th inning. He became the 20th player to appear in an All-Star Game after turning 41 years old and the first since right-handed pitcher Trevor Hoffman in 2009.

Cruz hit 41 home runs in 2019, joining Hank Aaron (1963) and Barry Bonds (2003-04) as the only players to hit 40 (or more) at age 39-or-older. He also became the ninth player in major league history to hit 35 (or more) in at least six consecutive seasons, joining Alex Rodriguez (11, 1998–2008), Sammy Sosa (10, 1995–2004), Jimmie Foxx (9, 1930-40), Rafael Palmeiro (9, 1995–2003), Babe Ruth (7, 1926-32), Ralph Kiner (7, 1947-53), Adam Dunn (7, 2004-10) and Willie Mays (6, 1961-66).

Cruz has appeared in 46 career postseason games, batting .288/.360/.659 (49-for-170) with 17 home runs and 37 RBI. Min. 150 AB, his 1.019 OPS ranks fourth in postseason history behind Albert Pujols (1.030), George Brett (1.023), and Carlos Beltrán (1.021). He appeared in two World Series with the Texas Rangers, losing both (2010 vs. Giants, 2011 vs. Cardinals).

Faucher, 25, is 11-7 with a 4.64 ERA (159-IP, 82-ER) in 94 appearances, all in relief, over parts of four minor league seasons. He has spent the entire season with Double-A Wichita, going 1-1 with a 7.04 ERA (30.2-IP, 24-ER) in 19 appearances. He was selected by the Twins in the 10th round of the 2017 Amateur Draft out of the University of California, Irvine.

Strotman, 24, went 7-2 with a 3.39 ERA (58.1-IP, 22-ER) in 13 appearances (12 starts) for Triple-A Durham this season and 12-8 with a 3.12 ERA (179-IP, 62-ER) in 42 appearances (37 starts) over four minor league seasons. He was selected by the Rays in the fourth round of the 2017 Amateur Draft out of Saint Mary’s College of California.

Ryan, 25, went 4-3 with a 3.63 ERA (57-IP, 23-ER) in 12 appearances (11 starts) for Durham this season and 15-8 with a 2.70 ERA (217-IP, 65-ER) in 48 appearances (40 starts) over three minor league seasons. He was named to the United States Olympic Team roster and departed for the Olympic Games in Tokyo earlier this week. He entered the season ranked by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in the Rays system. He was selected by the Rays in the seventh round of the 2018 Amateur Draft out of California State University, Stanislaus.