Fantasy baseball reaction to Nelson Cruz trade

Nelson Cruz will have to do his smiling in a new dugout after being traded to the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday. AP

Most of the trades that occur prior to the July 30 deadline will play only a small role in adjusting fantasy baseball value, and such is the case with the Tampa Bay Rays acquiring legendary designated hitter Nelson Cruz from the Minnesota Twins on Thursday. Cruz, 41, has been among the top power hitters in baseball for the past eight seasons, showing little-to-no sign of decline despite his age. His addition should greatly improve the Rays offense for the rest of this season.

Cruz, a ninth-round pick in ESPN average live drafts but worthy of a top-50 spot (which is where I ranked him), is among the top-40 hitters on ESPN's Player Rater. He is annually underrated by fantasy managers who believe he is too old to continue his top-notch production. They are wrong! Not only is Cruz baseball's home run leader since the start of 2014 (with 31 more than anyone else!), but only three hitters have hit more than him since the start of 2019. Cruz finished eighth in OPS last season and he ranks 17th in 2021. His exit velocity is among the league's best. His contact rate has not been this high in 11 years. No, Cruz is not slowing down.