Nelson Cruz likely won’t participate in the Home Run Derby

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Nelson Cruz is tied for the major league lead in home runs with Jose Abreu and Edwin Encarnacion at 25 apiece, but the Orioles slugger says he likely will not participate in the upcoming Home Run Derby at Target Field, reports Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun.

Though there has been compelling statistical evidence showing that the Home Run Derby does not have an adverse effect on hitters in the second half, Cruz is reticent to participate because he fears that the Home Run Derby could affect his swing.

“I don’t know if it would affect me, but even if it’s two or three games, that could be the difference between us making [the postseason],” Cruz said. “I don’t know if it’s worth that.”

[…]

“It’s not like batting practice, where you’re hitting it all over the field,” Cruz said. “You’re trying to hit a homer on every swing, on every pitch.”

Cruz signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles on February 22. As a result of his slashing .284/.351/.575 with 25 home runs and 66 RBI, if his production doesn’t crater in the second half, the 33-year-old Cruz will likely be able to parlay his 2014 performance into a multi-year contract, even if he’ll once again be tied to draft pick compensation.

We learned yesterday that Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton accepted National League captain Troy Tulowitzki’s invitation to participate in the Home Run Derby.

Rays trade Jake Odorizzi to Twins

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The Rays have traded right-hander Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, per team announcements on Saturday evening. The Twins will receive minor league shortstop Jermaine Palacios in the deal. Despite previous speculation, recently-DFA’d outfielder Corey Dickerson was not included in the trade.

With Odorizzi, the Twins finally have the front-end starter they’ve been seeking all winter. It’s a bargain deal as well, as the 27-year-old righty is under contract through 2019 and didn’t require the club to part with any of their top-shelf prospects in the trade. Odorizzi will be looking to stage a comeback in 2018 after a dismal performance with the Rays last year, during which he eked out a career-worst 4.14 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 through 143 1/3 innings.

Palacios, 21, ranked no. 27 in the Twins’ system last season. He split his year between Single-A Cedar Rapids and High-A Fort Myers, raking a combined .296/.333/.454 with 13 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 539 plate appearances. He’s expected to continue developing at shortstop, though he’s also seen limited time at second and third base during his four-year career in the minors.