Nelson Cruz: “I’ve only ever played outfield and DH.”
Jerry Dipoto: “It’s not that hard, Nelson. Tell him, Wash.”
Ron Washington: “It’s incredibly hard.”
Dipoto: “Wait, don’t you work for the Braves?”
Cruz: “Seriously, how did you get in my living room, Wash?”
Nelson Cruz won the Edgar Martinez Award as the best DH in the game in 2017. Indeed, he’s absolutely mashed over the past three years, hitting 126 homers. The Mariners have seemed pretty darn happy with that. He played only five games in the outfield in 2017 and only 48 games there in 2016. Given that he’ll turn 38 this season, it’s pretty likely that the Mariners will remain fine with that for the duration.
Not that that’s stopping Cruz from broadening his horizons. He just posted an Instagram video of himself taking grounders at first base with the caption, “Versatility is important.”
I’m assuming this is more for fun than anything else given that (a) Cruz has never played even a third of an inning at first base; and (b) the M’s just traded for a Ryon Healy to man the position. But hey, you never know, right?
The Rays have acquired first baseman C.J. Cron from the Angels for a player to be named later, the teams announced Saturday. In a corresponding move, the Rays cleared a roster spot for Cron by designating outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment.
Cron wasn’t expected to factor prominently in the Angels’ plans for 2018, especially given the recent addition of pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani and the projected Luis Valbuena/Albert Pujols combo at first base. The 28-year-old infielder wasn’t overly impressive during his fourth season in Anaheim, either, slashing .248/.305/.437 with 16 home runs and 0.5 fWAR through 373 plate appearances in 2017. He’ll give the Rays a platoon option with fellow first baseman Brad Miller, though neither Cron nor Miller have looked particularly adept against left-handed pitching lately.
Dickerson, meanwhile, is coming off of a banner season with the Rays. The 29-year-old outfielder enjoyed his first All-Star nomination in 2017, rounding out the year with a .282/.325/.490 batting line and career-best 27 home runs and 2.6 fWAR in 629 PA. Some have already speculated that a trade is in the works; barring that, it’s a head-scratching move to make considering his clear offensive value to the team.