The Rays announced on Tuesday that 1B/DH C.J. Cron was among the players designated for assignment in order to make room on the 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 draft.
Cron, 28, is coming off of a great offensive season for the Rays, batting .253/.323/.493 with 30 home runs and 74 RBI in 560 plate appearances. However, Cron is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. Cron was due a raise on his $2.3 million salary from 2018. MLB Trade Rumors projects him to earn $5.2 million in 2019.
Designating Cron is an odd move until you realize it’s the Rays, who have really milked the “small-market” brand for all it’s worth. Earlier this year, the club controversially designated outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment in order to create roster space for Cron when they acquired him from the Angels. Dickerson ended up getting traded to the Pirates and had a fine year himself, earning $5.95 million.
It’s also worth noting that bat-only 1B/DH types have been devalued across the league over the last several seasons as teams have become legitimately acclimated with analytics. As a result, another team — likely a fellow American League team — can attempt to work out a trade with the Rays for Cron’s services and could acquire him very cheaply.
Yesterday it was reported that the Washington Nationals would cut the weekly stipend paid to their minor leaguers from $400 a week to $300 per week through the end of June.
For frame of reference, MLB had agreed to pay all minor leaguers $400 per week through May 31. Several teams have agreed to extend that, with the Royals and Twins agreeing to do it all the way through the end of August. The Oakland A’s decided to stop the payments in their entirety as of today. The Nationals were unique in cutting $100 off of the checks.
The A’s and the Nationals have taken a great amount of flak for what they’ve done. The Nats move was immediately countered by Nationals major league players announcing that they would cover what the organization would not.
The A’s are, apparently, still sticking to their plan. The Nats, however, have reversed course:
One can easily imagine a situation in which Nats ownership just decided, cold-heartedly, to lop that hundred bucks off of each minor league check and not worry about a moment longer. What’s harder to imagine is what seems to have actually happened: the Nats did it without realizing that anyone would take issue with it, were surprised by the blowback, and then reversed course. Like, what kind of a bubble where they living in that they did not think people would consider that a low-rent thing to do?
In any event, good move, Nats, even if I cannot even begin to comprehend your thought process.