CLEVELAND (AP) — Nelson Cruz packed up his big bat and joined a contender.
The Tampa Bay Rays acquired Cruz, one of baseball's most proven sluggers, in a four-player trade with the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night.
Moments before opening a four-game series at Cleveland, the Rays, who entered the night just one game behind first-place Boston in the AL East, announced they got Cruz and minor leaguer Calvin Faucher from Minnesota in exchange for minor league right-handers Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman.
The 41-year-old Cruz has 436 career homers and 1,202 RBIs. He'll bring some needed pop to Tampa Bay's lineup and should help the Rays against left-handers. They're hitting .226 versus lefties.
The seven-time All-Star also has plenty of playoff experience with 17 homers and 37 RBIs in 46 games. He's batting .294 with 19 homers and 50 RBIs this season.
With a week until the trade deadline and no shot at making the playoffs, the disappointing Twins figured they'd get something for Cruz to begin building toward 2021. Minnesota entered Thursday at 41-55.
A 17-year veteran, Cruz signed a one-year, $13 million deal with Minnesota in February. He spent nearly three seasons with the Twins after four in Seattle. Cruz has also played with Baltimore and Texas.
Cruz hit at least 37 homers per season from 2014-19. He belted a career-high 44 homers for the Mariners in 2015.