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.