The Rays are “likely” to move on from 1B/DH C.J. Cron, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Though Cron, 28, smashed 30 homers en route to a career-best (122 wRC+) output at the plate, he’s averaged just 0.8 fWAR per season since debuting in 2014 for the Angels and and posted a meager .300 OBP against right-handed pitching in ’18, well below the benchmark for a quality regular at the position. The left-hand dominant Rays appear to be in the market for an “impact” right-handed bat, according to Topkin, and have assembled a tantalizing lot of youngsters from which to deal. It makes little sense, then, to keep Cron, whose $5.2MM projected 2019 salary (per MLBTR’s Matt Swartz) in his penultimate arbitration-eligible season would make him the team’s second-highest paid player in the upcoming campaign: in addition to him being relegated to near full-time bench duty in the event of an upgrade, Cron’s figure would almost surely constrict a perennially tight Tampa budget. Offensive-minded first basemen with plate discipline issues (Cron’s strikeout rate rose to a career-high 25.9% in ’18, with his walk rate still hovering below 7%) don’t figure to be in high demand on the trade market, so the Rays may be forced to non-tender him before the November 30th deadline.
In other news from around the division . . .
- Gunslinging Red Sox GM Dave Dombrowski, in a chat with the USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, offered some window into his rationale when dealing for left-hander Chris Sale prior to the 2017 season. “Everybody has to decide what they want to do,’’ Dombrowski said, “but for us, when you have a chance to win, you go for it. Sometimes, it’s painful. You can’t do both. You can’t protect all of your prospects and also trade for good guys. You’re not going to get Chris Sale unless it hurts a little bit. Everybody has to make their own decisions, but for us, it made sense, and he’s been just tremendous for us.” In an age of prospect hoarding, where close-fisted, analytically-inclined GMs are loath to part with top minor leaguers, Dombrowski stands as converse: his decades-long strategy of aggression has led to huge turnarounds in both Miami and Detroit, and, more recently, yielded seven division titles in the last eight seasons.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post opines that the Yankees should sign Manny Machado – who’s rumored to have the club at the top of his wish list – to a shorter-term deal with a higher average annual value. Machado, who turned 26 in July, is one of the youngest superstars to hit free agency in the game’s history, and almost certain to command a deal that nears (or, perhaps, surpasses) a decade in length. Sherman, however, thinks the Yanks could sway the SS/3B with a five-year pact that guarantees a record $40MM per season; the club, after all, has been bit by lengthy contracts given to Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and Jacoby Ellsbury in recent seasons, and a short-term deal (perhaps with an opt-out attached) would allow Machado to again hit free agency while he remains in the relative prime of his career. With shortstop Didi Gregorious set to undergo Tommy John Surgery and perhaps miss at least part of the 2019 season, and third baseman Miguel Andujar posting historically low defensive marks at third base (-25 DRS in 132 games), Machado certainly figures to be a prime target for the Bombers this offseason.