The Los Angeles Angels traded C.J. Cron to the Tampa Bay Rays in February and could be in the market to reacquire Cron just nine months later.
With the incoming Shohei Ohtani to be the designated hitter and Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart to play the infield, the Los Angeles Angels opted to trade infielder C.J. Cron to the Tampa Bay Rays in February for a player to be named later that would end up being Luis Rengifo.
The incoming talents did not pan out exactly how the Angels would have wanted. Ohtani did win the Rookie of the Year and was one of few positives for the team last year. However, the team did mismanage him and he will now be undergoing Tommy John Surgery and will not pitch again until 2020.
As for Kinsler and Cozart, the duo fell flat. Cozart only played in 58 games last season with a .658 OPS after an all-star season in which he boasted a .933 OPS. Kinsler was better, but still not great by any means and was traded to the Boston Red Sox.
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Meanwhile, Cron had a fantastic year with the Rays. In 560 plate appearances, Cron slugged 30 home runs, drove in 74 RBIs and posted an .816 OPS. According to FanGraphs, Cron had a wRC+ of 122.
Despite a surprisingly solid year, the Rays opted to designate Cron for assignment. The organization has young prospects that needed to be added to the 40-man roster in order to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft.
With that in mind, the Rays did a very similar thing that the team did last offseason. Corey Dickerson, who was coming off an all-star season, was designated for assignment in February and traded five days later to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Rays will now most likely work out a deal for Cron, who is projected to make $5.2 million in arbitration next season. While that is a pay raise for Cron, it is still pennies in the grand scheme of things for an MLB team.
That is why the Los Angeles Angels should be in the market for Cron. This is a relatively low risk, high reward move by the franchise who can reacquire someone who is already familiar with the clubhouse.
Angels’ general manager Billy Eppler said that the team could be looking at external options for both first base and catcher. Cron fits that first base billing and can even be the team’s designated hitter when Ohtani needs a day off and the matchup does not favor Pujols.
I understand Pujols is getting paid a lot of money but he should not be more than a situational matchup hitter. He still has some value as a power-hitting bat when he has a good opposing matchup but is arguably a worse all-around hitter than both Ohtani and even Cron at this point in his career.
And while Cron is not a great defensive player, he is better than Albert Pujols.
At the end of the day, the Rays are not going to get a huge return for Cron and the Los Angeles Angels should capitalize on that and reacquire the team’s former first-round pick.