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.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that the Phillies “are quietly trying to hammer out” a contract extension with J.T. Realmuto. He says it may take some time to be done — nothing is imminent — but that the sides are working on it.
Realmuto still has one final year of arbitration, and he’s likely to get $10 million or more for 2020 if nothing is done. It sounds as though he and the Phillies are both eager to cement a long term pact, however, that’ll keep him from hitting the free agent market next winter. Salisbury says the deal, once reached, could be for 4-5 years and $20+ million per season. He says an extension would likely not kick in until 2021. He and the club would agree to a separate one-year deal to cover 2020.
Realmuto, who is considered by most to be the top all-around catcher in the game at the moment, will turn 29 before the beginning of the 2020 season. He hit .275/.328/.493 with 25 homers and 83 driven in this past season, winning the Silver Slugger Award and a Gold Glove.