Rays’ trade for Nelson Cruz has gotten Yankees attention

Yankees starter takes first step in rehab from injury

BOSTON — The Rays’ acquisition of Nelson Cruz from the Twins on Thursday got Aaron Boone’s attention.

“He’s a wrecking machine,’’ the Yankees manager said of the slugger whom the Rays acquired (along with a minor leaguer) in exchange for a pair of prospects. “He’s a great hitter, obviously, still. He’s over 40 now and is still as good as ever.”

Cruz, who turned 41 this month, hit his 20th homer of the season — and first with the Rays — on Friday.

He joined a Tampa Bay team that trails the first-place Red Sox by one game. The Yankees will head to St. Petersburg, Fla., for a key three-game series, beginning on Tuesday.

“It makes them, certainly offensively, that much more potent and dangerous,’’ Boone said before the Yankees’ 6-2 loss to the Red Sox. “It gives them a little different element with a lethal right-handed power bat. He’s an elite offensive player. Add that to a really good team and it makes them even tougher.”

Nelson Cruz blasts a solo home run in the Rays’ 10-5 win over the Indians.AP

The trade deadline is a week away and the Yankees have plenty of needs.

They’ve been looking for outfield help for most of the season — especially since Aaron Hicks was lost for the year following left wrist surgery.

That has caused them to rely heavily on Brett Gardner, and because of the absences of Aaron Judge, Clint Frazier, Miguel Andujar and others, they’ve had to call up an army of outfielders from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The Post’s Joel Sherman reported that one of the Rangers’ top scouts watched some Yankees prospects at High-A Hudson Valley on Tuesday, and the Yankees have long been interested in Texas star Joey Gallo.

The Yankees have inquired about Minnesota’s Max Kepler, with the Twins in full sell mode.

The Marlins’ Starling Marte is also available and of interest to the Yankees. Unlike Kepler and Gallo, however, Marte is right-handed and the Yankees already lean heavily in that direction.

Hal Steinbrenner seems determined to stay under the $210 million luxury tax threshold and the Yankees are only a few million shy of that mark.

Asked if believed the Yankees would make a move before the deadline, Boone said Friday, “We’ll see. I know [general manager Brian Cashman] and those guys [in the front office] around the clock are having those conversations with everyone. We’ll see where these next several days lead us.”

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