The Rockies announced that first baseman C.J. Cron has been signed to a minor league contract, which contains an invitation to the team’s big league Spring Training camp.
Cron signed a one-year, $6.1MM free agent deal with the Tigers last winter and got off to a strong start in Motown, hitting four homers with some good on-base and slugging numbers (.194/.346/.548) over 52 plate appearances. Unfortunately, Cron’s season was prematurely ended after he suffered a left knee injury that required surgery. As one might expect, there hasn’t been much offseason buzz about a player coming off such a procedure, though as of last month, Cron was cleared for full activity and is expected to be ready to contribute in full during spring camp.
The 31-year-old Cron has delivered above-average offensive production (110 wRC+, 111 OPS+) over his seven Major League seasons, hitting .257/.312/.464 with 118 home runs over 2586 career plate appearances with the Tigers, Twins, Rays, and Angels. Because Cron is a first base-only player whose bat is merely above-average and not elite, however, teams have found him expendable, as both Minnesota and Tampa Bay chose to non-tender him rather than pay Cron’s increasing arbitration salary.
An opportunity presents itself for regular playing time in Denver, as Cron now might be the favorite for the Rockies’ starting first base job. He will be competing with Josh Fuentes and another minor league signing in Greg Bird, as Ryan McMahon looks to be shifting across the diamond to take over from Nolan Arenado at third base. Cron is surely one of many veteran hitters hoping the NL ends up adopting the designated hitter again, as it would create another route for regular at-bats both in 2021 and in future years.