The Tampa Bay Rays made a high-impact move ahead of MLB's July 31 trade deadline, acquiring veteran slugger Nelson Cruz from the Minnesota Twins on Thursday in a four-player deal.
Locked in their perennial struggle with the big-money Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees atop the American League (AL) East division, the Rays swooped for one of the most reliable power bats on the market.
Winner of the AL's Silver Slugger award at designated hitter the last two years, Cruz was named to the All-Star Game for the seventh time in his career this season.
Despite turning 41 on July 1, Cruz had 19 home runs and 50 RBIs along with a .294 batting average and .537 slugging percentage for the last-place Twins.
Heading into Thursday's game, Rays designated hitters had 13 home runs and a .395 slugging percentage, third-worst in the American League ahead of only the Texas Rangers (.380) and Detroit Tigers (.265).
Austin Meadows has been the primary DH for the Rays, starting 48 games there including Thursday's contest against the Cleveland Indians, but he can play the outfield.
Cruz, however, is purely a hitter. He has not made a defensive appearance since playing four games in right field for the Seattle Mariners in 2018.
Entering Thursday, the Rays were 57-39, one game back of the Red Sox in the division and two and a half games ahead in the AL wild card standings.
In addition to Cruz, Tampa Bay landed minor league pitcher Calvin Faucher in the trade while sending minor league pitchers Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman to the Twins.
Heading into the season, MLB.com ranked Ryan as the Rays' 10th-best prospect and Strotman number 17 in the organisation.