The Twins claimed budding slugger C.J. Cron from waivers on Monday, making it the fifth member of the Tampa Bay Rays to join or recently join the club. Who are the other former Rays? Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, Twins coach Bill Evers, Twins pitcher Jake Odorizzi and former slugger Logan Morrison, who is now a free agent.
A big thank you to the Rays and their fans for a great 2018! They gave me an opportunity that not many teams would have. With that being said, I’m pumped to join the Twins! Can’t wait to get this started! Let’s go! pic.twitter.com/3nPqka8whj
— C.J. Cron (@CCron24) November 26, 2018
Surprisingly (shockingly?), Cron was designated for assignment by the Rays last week after he hit 30 home runs for them in 2018. The good news for the Twins is that they might benefit from that kind of plate production next season. The potential bad news is that Cron does draw some comparisons to Morrison.
Morrison’s 38 home runs for the Rays in 2017 turned out to be an anomaly: He had never done that before and he came nowhere near that figure for the Twins. In fact, he was a bust and the Twins cut him loose by buying out his contract.
Prior to arriving in Tampa, Cron had never hit more than 16 home runs for his former team, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. So, were the 30 home runs a fluke or a sign of things to come?
There are reasons to be optimistic, according to the Strib:
Cron, 28, batted .253 with 127 hits, 74 RBI and a .323 on-base-percentage for Tampa Bay. His home runs — and 59 extra base hits — would have led the Twins last season, and his RBI would have been second to Eddie Rosario. Cron’s .816 on base-plus-slugging percentage would have topped the Twins, as well.
Cron earned $2.3 million in 2018. He is expected to make around $5 million in 2019 after arbitration, according to the Strib and MLB Trade Rumors.
Cron likely plays first base or DH for the Twins, which means he would share those duties with ex-Yankee prospect Tyler Austin. If Cron reverts to an earlier form and smacks no more than 16 dingers and Austin, as he did last season, chips in with another 17 blasts… well, there’s your 30-plus home runs in 2019.
-On the subject of all things Rays, it’s not only players and coaches who have wound up with the Twins, but also a new approach to the game itself. The Rays experimented with the “opener” last season, in which a reliever starts the game, faces the toughest part of the order, then hands the ball to the “primary pitcher” for a more effective outing. The Twins also adopted the opener format and had some success with it.