Tampa Bay Rays Acquire Nelson Cruz in Four-Player Trade with Minnesota Twins

Nelson Cruz is heading south for the winter… 

The Tampa Bay Rays have acquired the 41-year-old  Dominican professional baseball designated hitter and right fielder, one of baseball’s most proven sluggers, in a four-player trade with the Minnesota Twins.

Nelson Cruz

Cruz was well aware of the likelihood he’d be dealt this month, with the disappointing Twins well out of contention. Nonetheless he told reporters the news still felt “shocking” and “heartbreaking” to him after becoming fond of the organization over his 2 1/2 seasons in Minnesota.

“It’s a tough one,” Cruz said. “I guess it’s a new chapter, and I will embrace it the way I embrace everything in my life to go help the Tampa Bay Rays to win a championship.”

Moments before opening a four-game series at Cleveland, the Rays, who entered the night just one game behind the first-place Boston Red Sox in the AL East, announced they got Cruz and minor leaguer Calvin Faucher from Minnesota in exchange for minor league right-handers Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman.

Cruz is a seven-time MLB All-Star with 436 career homers and 1,202 RBIs. He’ll bring some needed pop to Tampa Bay’s lineup and should help the Rays against left-handers. They’re hitting .226 versus lefties.

Usually frugal Tampa Bay assumes $5.1 million remaining in Cruz’s $13 million salary. The Rays began the season with a $68.3 million payroll, 26th among the 30 teams.

Cruz also has plenty of playoff experience with 17 homers and 37 RBIs in 46 postseason games. He’s batting .294 with 19 homers and 50 RBIs this season, and over 258 games with the Twins he finished with 76 homers and a .984 OPS.

“People joke about how he’s ageless, and it really does feel that way,” Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said.

With a week until the trade deadline and no shot at making the playoffs, the Twins figured they’d get something for Cruz to begin building toward the future. Minnesota entered Thursday at 41-55.

A 17-year veteran, Cruz signed a one-year, $13 million deal with Minnesota in February. He has also played with the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Ramgers. He hit at least 37 homers per season from 2014-19. He belted a career-high 44 homers for the Mariners in 2015.

“We thought we should be in the playoff race,” Cruz said. “Never thought we should be in this situation. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. You never want to leave the places where you are, where you feel comfortable. It is what it is. That’s part of the business.”

Both Ryan and Strotman were in Triple-A Durham‘s rotation.

Ryan, a 25-year-old who will also pitch for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics, had a 3.63 ERA with 75 strikeouts in 57 innings for the Bulls and was ranked by MLB.com as the No. 10 prospect in Tampa Bay’s system. He was a seventh-round draft pick in 2018.

Strotman, 24, had a 3.39 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings with Durham. He was the 17th-ranked Rays prospect after being drafted in the fourth round in 2017.

Faucher, 25, had a 7.04 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings for Double-A Wichita. He was a 10th-round draft pick by the Twins in 2017.

Milwaukee Brewers Acquire Rowdy Tellez from Toronto Blue Jays

Rowdy Tellez is movin’ to the Badger State.

The 26-year-old half-Mexican American professional baseball player and first baseman has been acquired by the Milwaukee Brewers from the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday in exchange for right-handed pitchers Trevor Richards and Bowden Francis.

Rowdy Tellez 

Tellez, who bats left-handed, is hitting .209 with four home runs and eight RBIs in 50 games for the Blue Jays at the major league level this season.

Tellez is currently in Triple-A and is hitting .298 with four home runs and 11 RBIs in Trenton.

His best season came in 2019 when he set career highs with 21 home runs and 54 RBIs. For his career, he has a .241 batting average, 37 home runs and 99 RBIs in 219 games.

Tellez was expected to be in uniform for Wednesday’s series finale against the New York Mets.

“This is a player who has consistently put the bat on the ball and he’s consistently hit the ball hard — those are two pretty good attributes for major league hitters,” Brewers general manager David Stearns said. “He has a long track record of success in the minor leagues. He got off to a little bit of a slow start this year at the major league level. We think the underlying ingredients are pretty sound. We think he should be able to perform at the major league level. He’s going to get a shot.”

The first-place Brewers acquired the 28-year-old Richards, along with Willy Adames, in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays in May. He is 3-0 with a 3.20 ERA in 15 appearances with Milwaukee since the trade.

Francis, 25, is 7-3 with a 3.62 ERA in 11 starts at two levels in the Brewers’ minor league system this season.

The Brewers needed some help at first base with Daniel Vogelbach on the injured list due to a strained left hamstring. Vogelbach isn’t expected to return until August.

Keston Hiura, who opened the season as the Brewers’ starting first baseman, is batting .161 and already has been sent to the minors twice this season. Hiura showed signs of progress during the Brewers’ recent 11-game winning streak, but he has gone 0-for-7 with six strikeouts over his last two games.

Stearns said the search for a Vogelbach replacement was complicated by the calendar. Teams are preparing for the amateur draft, which starts Sunday, while trying to figure out if they are contenders ahead of the July 30 trade deadline.

“We explored a number of different options, a number of different players,” Stearns said. “We’re certainly pleased we were able to find a match.”

Richards will help out in the bullpen for the Blue Jays, who entered Tuesday four games out of the AL’s second wild-card spot.

“You can pitch him in some big spots,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He got out of some jams for us. He did a really nice job.”

Tampa Bay Rays Rookie Wander Franco Makes “Electric” MLB Debut

It appears the sky’s the limit for Wander Franco

In his Major League Baseball debut, the 20-year-old Dominican professional baseball player started at third base, doubled, homered, drove in three runs and showed a flair for the dramatic with a curtain call in the Tampa Bay Rays‘ 9-5, 11-inning loss to the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday.

Wander Franco

Franco, who walked in his first MLB plate appearance in the first inning, tied the game at 5 in the fifth with a 362-foot homer that drove in Kevin Kiermaier and Yandy Diaz.

 

He showed confidence — and some swagger — on the base paths and electrified the crowd at Tropicana Field.

 

Called up from Triple-A earlier in the day, Franco raised his right arm as he neared the plate and lifted both arms while crossing the plate to a roaring crowd when he connected in the fifth off Eduardo Rodriguez and drew his first curtain call in the majors.

 

“In that at-bat I actually knew I was going to hit a home run because that was the pitch I was looking for,” Franco said through an interpreter. “I ended up getting the pitch that I was looking for and I was able to help the team out.”

Franco pointed toward his father, who was at the game, while crossing the plate. His father, meanwhile, reacted with pure joy when the home run was hit.

Franco got the ball back and plans to display it at his home in the Dominican Republic.

“I felt super good,” he said through an interpreter. ”God sent me a surprise with all this.”

Franco even drew a nice ovation when he went on the field to run pregame, and got a partial standing ovation when the Rays’ lineup was announced over the public address system.

“Pretty electric player,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Win or loss, we’re trying to win them all obviously, but it had to be a great day for Wander and his family. A talented player that’s going to be fun to watch in the coming months.”

Red Sox manager Alex Cora agreed.

“What a good player he is,” he said. “The way he controls the at-bat for how young he is. They have a special one.”

Franco hit .315 with seven homers and 35 RBIs in 39 games this season at Triple-A Durham.

Wander Franco to Make Major League Baseball Debut with the Tampa Bay Rays

It’s a Rays of sunshine for Wander Franco

The 20-year-old Dominican professional baseball player and top MLB prospect is officially headed to the big leagues and will be called up from the minors by the Tampa Bay Rays.

Wander Franco

Franco is a switch-hitting infielder who entered the season ranked as the No. 1 prospect in Major League Baseball, according to ESPN‘s Kiley McDaniel.

In 39 games for Triple-A Durham, Franco hit .315/.367/.586 with seven home runs and 35 RBIs.

He’ll join the Rays for their series against the Boston Red Sox beginning Tuesday in Tampa, Florida.

The Rays are the midst of a six-game losing streak, their longest since an eight-game skid in May 2018, including four walk-off losses in their past five games, the last two of those 10-inning defeats to the Seattle Mariners.

The Rays have hit only .222/.300/.361 in June, ranking 25th in the majors in OPS, so they will turn to Franco to provide some offensive spark. Regarded as one of the best pure hitting prospects in recent decades, Franco has a career minor league average of .332 with more walks than strikeouts. He has thrived in Triple-A East, ranking 10th in OPS despite skipping Double-A while being the youngest player in the league.

Franco has played primarily shortstop at Durham, starting 28 games there, while also playing some third base and second base. Rookie Taylor Walls has been the primary shortstop for the Rays since they traded Willy Adames to the Milwaukee Brewers, but Walls has hit .237 with one home run in 26 games. Joey Wendle started at shortstop Sunday, but his best position is third base, which should clear shortstop for Franco if Walls is the player sent down to open a roster spot for Franco.

“Franco has been the best prospect in baseball for almost two years because of his unique combination of pedigree, tools and performance. He was the best international prospect in his signing class at least two years before he signed and is the best prospect baseball has seen in at least five years,” McDaniel wrote in his preseason top 100 rankings.

Franco will debut at 20 years and 113 days old, which will make him the second-youngest player in Rays history behind B.J. Upton, who debuted in 2004 at 19 years and 347 days.

Milwaukee Brewers Acquire Willy Adames from Tampa Bay Rays 

Things are brewing for Willy Adames

The slumping Milwaukee Brewers moved to shore up their infield defense by acquiring the 25-year-old Dominican professional baseball shortstop from the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.

Willy Adames

Milwaukee also got pitcher Trevor Richards from the Rays for relievers J.P. Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen.

Adames is hitting .197 with five homers and 15 RBIs in 41 games this year but had an .813 OPS last season while helping Tampa Bay reach the World Series. The 28-year-old Richards has a 4.50 ERA and one save in six relief appearances.

“We’re acquiring a shortstop who has proven he’s one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball,” Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said.

The trade surprised Adames, who already had arrived at TD Ballpark for the Rays’ game with the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Florida, when he learned about the move.

Adames said he’d “been crying the whole afternoon.”

“To get that news out of nowhere, it was tough,” Adames said. “It’s business. You’ve got to see every side of the situation and every view and just take the positive, and just bring the joy with everything we’ve done here. Just continue to have those memories and take it with me.”

The Rays plan to call up Taylor Walls and give him much of the playing time at shortstop, though Joey Wendle will play there on occasion. Tampa Bay also has top prospect Wander Franco and Vidal Brujan at Triple-A Durham.

“You’re talking about as good a defensive shortstop as you’re going to find,” Rays general manager Erik Neander said. “You’re talking about a switch-hitter that can put ball in the play, do a lot of things to help you win tight games.”

Adames said he figured he might get traded eventually because the Rays had Walls and Franco in the organization. He just didn’t think a deal would happen this soon.

“That’s what I was telling the guys,” Adames said. “I said, ‘It was so surprising because it’s too early.’ I was not even thinking this year, maybe next year. You kind of knew that’s how they work, that’s how the organization works. But to get this news so early, it was tough.”

The acquisition of Adames gives the Brewers some help at shortstop, which had been a growing concern. The Brewers began a weekend series at Cincinnati on Friday having lost 12 of their past 16 games to fall below .500.

Adames has a $590,000 salary in the major leagues, is eligible for arbitration next winter and can become a free agent after the 2024 season.

Carlos Correa Agrees to One-Year, $11.7 Million Deal to Stay with Houston Astros

Carlos Correa isn’t leaving Space City

The 26-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball shortstop and the Houston Astros have reached a settlement and avoided arbitration, the team has announced.

Carlos Correa

Both sides agreed to a one-year deal worth $11.7 million, according to multiple reports.

“I’m happy that we were able to come to an agreement and avoid arbitration,” Correa said in a statement. “Arbitration is not a good process.”

Correa had been seeking $12.5 million in 2021, while the Astros had offered $9.75 million.

Correa hit .264 with five home runs in 58 games last season but saw his numbers improve to .362 with six homers and 17 RBIs in 13 playoff games. Houston lost to the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 7 of the ALCS.

Correa led major league shortstops with a .995 fielding percentage, making just one error.

Correa made $2,962,963 in 2020, a proration of his original $8 million salary, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

MLB Network first reported financial details of the settlement.

Jose Alvarado Traded to Philadelphia Phillies 

Jose Alvarado is Phillie-ng good…

The Philadelphia Phillies have acquired the 25-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball pitcher, a left-handed reliever, in a three-team trade with the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.

Jose Alvarado

In the deal, Tampa Bay sent Alvarado to Philadelphia, the Phillies sent left-hander Garrett Cleavinger to Los Angeles and the Dodgers sent infielder Dillon Paulson and a player to be named later to Tampa Bay.

Alvarado has a career ERA of 3.46 in 149 appearances over four seasons with the Rays. He pitched in nine games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and had a 6.00 ERA. His best season was in 2018, when he appeared in a career-high 70 games and had a 2.39 ERA. He is 2-15 in his career with 15 saves.

Cleavinger, 26, made one appearance for the Phillies last season, making his major league debut on September 17 against the New York Mets.

Paulson has yet to appear in a major league game. He had a slash line of .243/.366/.433 between two stops in the Dodgers’ minor league system in 2019.

 

Manny Machado Named National League MVP Finalist

Manny Machado has proven his most valuable status…

The 28-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball player and San Diego Padres third baseman and shortstop has been named a finalist in the MLB’s National League MVP race.

Manny Machado

Machado, who hit .304 with 16 homers and 47 RBIs for the Padres this season, is nominated alongside Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and Atlanta Braves star Freddie Freeman, after balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Meanwhile, New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom is going for his third consecutive National League Cy Young Award. He’s facing off Trevor Bauer and Yu Darvish for the honor.

The top three finishers for each BBWAA award were revealed Monday. The winners will be announced next week.

Balloting for the BBWAA awards was completed before the start of the postseason.

Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, Cleveland Indians infielder Jose Ramirez and New York Yankees leadoff man DJ LeMahieu are the top three finishers in voting for the American League MVP award.

LeMahieu, who hit a big league-best .364, and Bauer are free agents after starring during the pandemic-shortened season.

Indian’ pitcher Shane Bieber joined Minnesota Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda and Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu as finalists for the American League Cy Young Award.

The top finishers in voting for American League Manager of the Year are Tampa Bay RaysKevin Cash, Toronto OriolesCharlie Montoyo and Rick Renteria, who was let go by the Chicago White Sox after the team made the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Miami’s Don Mattingly, San Diego’s Jayce Tingler and the Cubs’ David Ross are the finalists for NL Manager of the Year. Tingler and Ross just completed their first seasons as big league skippers.

The finalists for AL Rookie of the Year are Houston Astros right-hander Cristian Javier and center fielders Kyle Lewis of the Seattle Mariners and Luis Robert of the White Sox. Philadelphia Phillies infielder Alec Bohm, Padres infielder Jake Cronenworth and Milwaukee Brewers reliever Devin Williams are the top finishers for the National League rookie award.

Wonderfilm Media Developing Biopic About Tampa Bay Rays’ Breakout Star Randy Arozarena

Randy Arozarena’s life story is headed to the big screen…

The 25-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder and Tampa Bay Rays rookie, who broke the MLB record for most home runs and hits in a single postseason, will be the focus of a biopic from Wonderfilm Media.

Randy Arozarena

Arozarena, the Rays’ breakout star, came from Cuba and fueled his team’s run to the World Series, which eventually went to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games.

Brad Gann, the screenwriter of the Mark Wahlberg-led Invincible and a co-writer of pro surfer Bethany Hamilton biopic Soul Surfer, will write the screenplay.

Arozarena’s story is inspiring. He escaped Cuba on a makeshift boat, landed in Mexico, and started a new life there before making his way to the U.S. and eventually, his Major League Baseball debut in 2017.

Arozarena currently holds the MLB record for most home runs in a single postseason with 10. In his rookie postseason, Arozarena broke Barry Bonds’ record for most home runs as well as Derek Jeter’s record for most hits by a rookie. He was also named MVP of the ALCS.

Rays’ Randy Arozarena Breaks Record for Most Hits in Single Postseason

Randy Arozarena is breaking records like theyre going out of style

 

The 25-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder and Tampa Bay Rays rookie, who had already set the MLB record for most home runs in a postseason, now owns the record for most hits in a single postseason after his third-inning base hit off Los Angeles Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw in Sunday’s Game 5 of the World Series.

Randy Arozarena

 

Arozarena hit a 1-2 slider to left field for his 27th hit this postseason. He was tied with Pablo Sandoval, who had 26 hits in the 2014 postseason. The single brought home Yandy Diaz, who had tripled.

 

It was the first of Arozarena’s 27 hits with a runner in scoring position. Arozarena was previously 0-for-6 in that category.

 

“Pretty special. Pretty special,” manager Kevin Cash said after the Rays’ 4-2 loss to the Dodgers that left Tampa Bay in a 3-2 series deficit. “He wanted the ball, too. I noticed that. He asked for the ball. Congrats to Randy.”

 

After reaching first base, he signaled for someone to get the ball for him as a keepsake. Arozarena also has a record nine home runs in his first playoff experience, while Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager is right behind him with eight.

Game 6 is Tuesday at Globe Life Field.