Nelson Cruz hit .311/.392/.639 with 41 homers in his first season in Minnesota, making it an easy call for the Twins to exercise their $12MM club option on the veteran slugger for 2020. Cruz can be a free agent next winter, though GM Thad Levine told fans and reporters (including Betsy Helfand of the St. Paul Pioneer Press) at this weekend’s TwinsFest fan event that “we are having ongoing conversations with [Cruz’s] agent to discuss mutual interest in the future.”
Though Cruz has continued to swing a mighty bat into his late 30’s, he signed with the Twins for just one guaranteed year (worth $14.3MM in guaranteed money) with the 2020 club option last winter, as his age and DH-only lineup deployment limited his market. It’s fair to assume that those same factors could impact Cruz again this coming offseason, even if he has another big season in 2020. Cruz turns 40 in July, so perhaps a modest one-year extension covering the 2021 season would be acceptable to both sides. The Twins would be making a minimal risk in an aging player who has shown no signs of falling off at the plate, while Cruz would get some extra reward and security, while sidestepping the free agent market to stay in a familiar environment with a contending team.
Here’s more from the Twin Cities….
- The Twins’ signing of Josh Donaldson is chronicled by The Athletic’s Dan Hayes (subscription required) in a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the courtship between the two sides. Most of the deal’s financial elements (four years and $92MM, plus a club option for 2024) were already put forward by the Twins as early as mid-December, though that left several weeks of uncertainty on both sides as Donaldson pondered his options and began to learn more about the Minnesota organization. “There were times we thought we had a zero percent chance of signing (Donaldson). There were times we thought we had something a lot better,” Levine said. The process was also somewhat complicated by Levine going on vacation in late December, as chief baseball officer Derek Falvey then stepped in to continue negotiations with Donaldson’s representatives.
- Rich Hill is still targeting early June for his return date to the majors, and the date of his debut in a Twins uniform. Hill told MLB.com’s Do-Hyoung Park and other reporters that he will begin baseball activities next week, as the veteran left-hander continues to recover from primary revision surgery in November. Though Hill pitched with a detached UCL for much of the 2019 season, the injury wasn’t serious enough to require Tommy John surgery, which is why he opted for the lesser-known primary revision procedure that offered a shorter recovery timeframe. “It’s only a six-year-old surgery, and it’s had a huge amount of success of people who have had it and come back. I think it’s above a 95 percent success rate, so it’s something that I’m extremely excited about,” Hill said. The Twins signed Hill to a one-year deal in December worth $3MM in guaranteed money, though Hill only needs to pitch as many as 25 innings to start unlocking the $9.5MM in extra incentive bonuses in the contract.