Minnesota Twins trade Nelson Cruz to Tampa Bay Rays

A clubhouse leader and fan favorite will no longer wear a Minnesota Twins uniform the rest of the season.

The Twins announced before Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim that they’ve traded designated hitter Nelson Cruz to the Tampa Bay Rays for minor league pitchers Joe Ryan and Drew Stroman. The Rays are 57-39 and one game behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League East.

The Twins, meanwhile, are 41-55 and 17 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the American League Central Division. They’re 13.5 games out of a Wild Card playoff spot with 66 regular season games remaining.

Cruz came to the Twins in free agency before the 2019 season. He helped lead the Twins to division titles the last two seasons, and in 258 games with Minnesota, hit .304 with 76 homers, 45 doubles and 191 RBI. Cruz represented the Twins just a few weeks ago at the All-Star Game.

"It's hard to leave family behind and in this case move to a different park, go to a different organization. I feel like this was my family and we've been through a lot through the years. Definitely it's heartbreaking,' Cruz told reporters on Thursday.

We’ll find out if it’s just the first of many moves for the Twins before Major League Baseball’s trade deadline later this month. More veterans could be dealt, with the team not in contention for a playoff spot. Josh Donaldson, Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios have all been the subject of recent trade rumors.