Cleveland Guardians Target #1: C.J. Cron – First Base
First base was a black hole for Cleveland in 2021, beginning with the Jake Bauers/Yu Chang debacle in April, then the revolving door of Chang, Owen Miller and Bobby Bradley the team is currently deploying. Bradley specifically has been a nightmare to watch, and it’s easier than ever to understand why the team was so reluctant to call him up. The Assassin started hot at the plate upon making his 2021 debut, but has since dropped his average to .211 and striking out at an abysmal 39.2% clip.
Enter C.J. Cron, a soon-to-be 32-year-old journeyman first baseman on a redemption tour with the Colorado Rockies. Cron has been in the league since 2014, and before this season spent two years in the AL Central with Minnesota and Detroit, most notably 2019 in Minnesota slashing .253/.311/.469 with 25 home runs, 78 runs driven in and 24 doubles. He spent just 13 games in the pandemic shortened 2020 season with the Tigers, but has been a revelation for the Rockies this year on a one-year deal.
Cron is slashing .277/.371/.528 for Colorado in 139 games, chipping in 28 home runs, 30 doubles and 90 RBIs. The concern with Cron, as with every player that leaves Denver, is the home/road splits, and Cron is no exception, slashing .326/.412/.661 at Coors Field and .226/.327/.389 on the road in 2021. However, given his recent history with the Twins, and a career .261/.322/.474 slash line, he’d be a massive improvement to the Cleveland Guardians roster.
Defensively Cron isn’t without flaws, but he holds a career .992 fielding percentage in eight years playing first base. He’s no Gold Glove candidate, but he isn’t swiss cheese either. Cron could be an excellent thrift signing for the Guardians, coming off a one-year $1M deal with Colorado a deal similar to what Cesar Hernandez signed this past offseason could make a lot of sense, somewhere in the range of $3-4M with a club option for 2023 until a better option presents itself.