C.J. Cron, who hit 30 home runs last season, picked up by Twins
C.J. Cron had a breakthrough season in 2018, hitting 30 home runs and adding 28 doubles and a triple for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Watching closely was the team’s major league field coordinator, Rocco Baldelli.
Baldelli is now the Twins manager and, on Monday, he added Cron to his roster when the Twins claimed the righthanded-hitting first baseman/designated hitter off waivers.
Cron, 28, played 140 games (61 at first base) for the Rays last season. His 59 extra-base hits were more than any Twins player. His average was .253 and he had 74 RBI and a .816 on base-plus-slugging percentage.
He struck out 145 times in 560 plate appearances.
The Rays designated Cron for assignment when they turned in their 40-man roster Nov. 20. He made $2.3 million last season and is entering his second season of arbitration eligibility.
Cron, 6-4 and 235 pounds, played for the Angels from 2014-17. Los Angeles drafted him in the first round (17th overall) in 2011 out of the University of Utah. He had been taken in the 44th round in 2008 by the White Sox out of Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix, but instead played for the Utes, where he was the Mountain West player of the year as a sophomore.
His major league totals are 89 home runs, 287 RBI and a .260 average in 548 games.
Cron’s father, Chris, played briefly in the major leagues for the Angels and White Sox, then managed for 19 seasons in the minor leagues, finishing up at Class AA Erie in 2013.
With Joe Mauer’s retirement, the Twins have a big hole at first base. Tyler Austin is a holdover, and presumably will compete with Cron and possibly Miguel Sano for playing time at first.
Last season, the Twins signed free agent Logan Morrison for $5.5 million after he belted 38 home runs for the Rays in 2017. Morrison, bothered by a hip injury, had a dismal season, hitting .186 with 15 home runs; he had a club option for $8 million in 2019, but the Twins bought him out for $1 million.
The Twins have one open spot on their 40-man roster. They now have 11 arbitration eligible players, with a deadline Friday to offer arbitration to those players — pitchers Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson, Trevor May and Taylor Rogers; infielders Cron, Ehire Adrianza and Miguel Sano; and outfielders Robbie Grossman, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler and Byron Buxton.
Odorizzi, also picked up from Tampa Bay before last season, made $6.3 million and Gibson $4.2 million. Grossman, at $2 million, and Cron are the only others who had salaries in excess of $1 million in 2018.