There's one conclusion to be drawn from the Twins claiming first baseman-designated hitter C.J. Cron off waivers from Tampa Bay on Monday.
The Twins really have a thing for the Rays.
The clubs are in one of those difficult to explain stretches in which players and personnel are leaving the Gulf Coast for the Upper Midwest, and vice versa - especially during the Derek Falvey/Thad Levine administration.
But, I must point out that other Twins GMs have made moves with the Rays too, like Terry Ryan trading for Kevin Jepsen in 2015 (I still remember blogger Seth Stohs lamenting that Chih Wei-Huh was given up for him) and Bill Smith sending Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett as part of a package that brought back Delmon Young and Brendan Harris in 2007.
But what's gone down in recent years has been eyebrow-raising.
The Twins are looking to replace the retired Joe Mauer, so they plucked Cron (pictured above) off waivers from the Rays on Monday. Cron is not as patient as Mauer at the plate, but will hit a few over the fence. The Twins will miss Mauer's on base ability. In fact, I would argue that, as of now, Jorge Polanco takes the best at bats among the players currently on the roster.
There are too many low-walk, high whiff guys for my liking. I'd love to go into more detail, but that would spoil one of my spring training budget items.
This latest move comes a few weeks after the Twins hired Rocco Baldelli, a former Rays coach. And he plucked longtime Rays coach Bill Evers to be part of his staff here. The staff already includes Derek Shelton, who agreed to return as bench coach after interviewing for managerial positions with the Twins and Rangers. And Shelton spent several seasons as the Rays hitting coach.
Remember Neil Allen? He was the Twins pitching coach in 2016 and 2017. The Twins hired him from Class AAA Durham -- out of the Rays system.
Back to players.
Cron joins the Twins one season after the club signed Logan Morrison during spring training, hoping the 38 home runs he hit with Tampa Bay were no fluke. But 15 home runs and a hip surgery later, the LoMo experiment was over. I do hope that Twins fans aren't climbing on the "Cron is LoMo 2.0" bandwagon. We're more cultured than that, aren't we?
Morrison was added about two weeks after the Twins traded infield prospect Jermaine Palacios to Tampa Bay for Jake Odorozzi (pictured).
And, in one of Falvine's first wave of moves to build out their baseball operations department, they hired Josh Kalk as a senior analyst. Kalk spent the previous nine years with the Rays, where he earned a reputation as a pitching analytics whiz.
Since 2015, the Twins have added nine former Tampa Bay players, coaches or analysts. They've become Rays West.
Is it just a cycle? Who knows? On the other end of the spectrum, the Twins have not made a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals since 1988 -- when Tom Brunansky was swapped for Tom Herr. When will that Cold War end? When the Hot Stove heats up?
A couple notes:
While the Twins have experessed some interest in former Rockies Gold Glove winning second baseman D.J. LeMathieu, I was told late last night that there's nothing cooking on that burner.
Baldelli and his staff this week are in Fort Myers, Fla. for their first meetings as a group. There's a lot of work to be done in terms of defining roles and strategies and mapping out the daily spring training plan.