The Twins announced that they’ve placed designated hitter Nelson Cruz on the 10-day injured list due to a left wrist strain and promoted infield prospect Luis Arraez for his big league debut. Arraez’s promotion was initially reported by Daniel Alvarez Montes of El Extra Base (Twitter link).
Cruz, 38, was signed to a one-year deal worth $14.3MM this winter and has jumped out to a hot start, mashing at a .270/.354/.508 clip with seven home runs and nine doubles through his first 144 plate appearances as a Twin. He’s been out of the lineup for the past few days due to ongoing discomfort that he’s played through to this point, and Minnesota has now opted to give Cruz some additional time to let the wrist heal up. There’s no indication that his absence is expected to be particularly lengthy, and because the move is backdated to May 14, he can be activated in a week’s time if he’s ready.
Arraez, 22, is largely devoid of power but has been a hitting machine throughout his time in the minors. Signed as a teenager out of Venezuela back in 2013, he’s never batted below .309 in any season of affiliated ball and carries a lifetime .331/.385/.414 slash line with him to the Majors. His uncanny knack for making contact has led to a tiny 8.4 percent strikeout rate in the minors, which is scarcely higher than his 7.7 percent walk rate. Both Fangraphs (No. 12) and MLB.com (No. 17) rank Arraez in the middle of the pack in a solid Twins farm system, praising his plus hit tool and making note of his extreme opposite-field approach. Arraez was out to a strong start in 2019, hitting .344/.413/.394 through 179 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A.
Defensively, he’s logged the majority of his innings at second base, but Arraez has time at third base, shortstop and left field as well, which points to a possible utility role at the big league level moving forward. His ability to move around the diamond, paired with Marwin Gonzalez’s well-documented versatility, should give rookie skipper Rocco Baldelli plenty of in-game flexibility with regard to his lineup and defensive alignments while Cruz is on the shelf.
Down the line, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Arraez settle in as a versatile, bat-first utility option in Minneapolis, even if his initial promotion to the big leagues is brief. It’s possible, too, that Arraez impresses enough to stick on the roster; as noted here last week, out-of-options utility infielder Ehire Adrianza is struggling a great deal this season (.177/.297/.290).