There’s one player whose name keeps coming up in my ongoing research into the MLB trade market. He’s on a minor-league contract that will pay him $100,000 in 2021. He is Colorado Rockies’ first baseman, C.J. Cron.
No, I haven’t lost my senses. I’m not suggesting that a 31-year-old, journeyman first baseman, is the hottest commodity on the market. He’s not. But I do believe he provides the best trade value for a contender in need of a power-hitting first baseman.
So which teams would be interested in Cron services? Well, as I identified in my AL trade deadline preview, a move to the Red Sox makes perfect sense. Boston has used a revolving door approach with the position and they haven’t gotten a ton of production.
The Milwaukee Brewers have gotten next to nothing offensively from their first basemen. They traded for Rowdy Tellez a couple of weeks ago but he has only 4 hits in 16 at-bats since. Cron would be a clear upgrade over either Tellez or Keston Hiura.
Milwaukee Brewers Named Potential Trade Fit for 1B CJ Cron https://t.co/iftfZvpGYF— Dairyland Express (@DairylandXpress) July 17, 2021
Cron has been extremely consistent, and, in my opinion, fairly underrated his entire career. He hit 11 home runs in just 242 at-bats in his rookie season with the Angels in 2014. He followed that up with three straight 16 home run seasons from 2015-2017 despite eclipsing 400 at-bats just once.
The imposing, California native excelled when he was afforded more consistent playing time over the next two years. Cron reached career highs in games played (140), at-bats (501), doubles (28), and homers (30) in 2018 with the Rays. Then hit 25 bombs with the Twins in 2019.
FIRE UP THE FOUNTAINS IN THE CRON ZONE 🔥⛲️ pic.twitter.com/tizRihIPAv— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) July 17, 2021
This season he’s hit 14 home runs with an OPS of .830. He’s more patient at the plate, with a walk rate of 12%, far higher than his previous seasons. For the season, he’s averaged 18.1 at-bats per home run, tied with Bryce Harper for 33rd in MLB and ahead of sluggers like Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant.
He’s about 100 at-bats from qualifying for the career leaderboard but has averaged 19.84 AB’s/HR for his career. For context that would land him just ahead of Tim Salmon (19.85) for 136th all-time. That may not sound great but if you continue to scroll down that list, you pass a lot of great players.
A good defensive player Cron is not. He has a career dWAR of -3.6. His stance can be stiff and upright. But that’s part of his appeal too. You don’t have to play him every day. Just keep him in the mix and he’s a threat to go deep at any time.
What team will step up and make this obviously shrewd move? It’s a trade that the Brewers really should make. Rumours have them orchestrating a reunion with Jesus Aguilar.
Brewers Trade Candidate: Jesus Aguilar https://t.co/7MRbmBUPuJ— Border Fuel (@BorderFuelHQ) July 17, 2021
Instead, I’ll suggest the Red Sox, who have been better than expected all season. There’s no need for them to trade top prospects for a guy like Anthony Rizzo. They’re already a World Series-caliber team. They would just need Cron to come in, keep doing what he’s been doing and he’d fit in just fine.
I’ll be sharing more of my MLB trade deadline opinions on The Sports Stove Podcast on Thursday night.