Rockies sign slugger Cron to compete at 1B

February 15th, 2021

DENVER -- First baseman C.J. Cron, who in the last two seasons has shown promising power while also dealing with injuries, has reached an agreement with the Rockies on a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training.

Cron, 31, spent last season with the Tigers and hit four home runs in the first 13 games, but sustained an injury to his left knee while fielding a grounder and was forced to undergo season-ending surgery to stabilize his patella (kneecap). Cron batted .190 in the limited action (52 plate appearances), but his other numbers were solid, including a .346 on-base percentage and .548 slugging percentage.

In 2019 with the Twins, Cron hit .253 with 25 home runs and 78 RBIs but saw his effectiveness muted in the second half by a right thumb injury that also required surgery.

In his career, Cron has a .257/.312/.464 slash line with 118 home runs, including a career-best 30 with the Rays in 2018. He has spent his entire career in the American League with the Angels, Rays, Twins and Tigers, and he has split his playing time between first base and designated hitter.

First base has been a problem for the Rockies in recent seasons, so in 2021 the Rockies are addressing it through competition.

Right-handed-hitting Josh Fuentes supplanted now-retired Daniel Murphy as the regular last season, but it’s possible the Rockies will use Fuentes in multiple positions. Ian Desmond, who has played a considerable amount of first base since joining the team in 2017, is seen as an outfielder, but he could see time at first.

Cron is the latest first baseman to accept a non-roster invitation. Last week, the club signed left-handed-hitting Greg Bird, formerly with the Yankees, and earlier this offseason the Rockies signed right-handed-hitting Connor Joe, formerly with the Giants.

Spring Training also will give some prospects a chance to shine.

Right-handed-hitting Colton Welker, the Rockies’ No. 8 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is in his first season on the 40-man Major League roster. Welker batted .252 with 10 home runs at Double-A Hartford in 2019, and he showed growth in his swing path last year before Spring Training was ended.

Others earlier in their careers are switch-hitting 2019 first-round pick Michael Toglia, Colorado's No. 3 prospect, and left-handed-hitting 2018 first-rounder Grant Lavigne, the club's No. 10 prospect. In '19, Toglia played at short-season Class A and Lavigne played at Class A.