Wednesday is Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz’s 40th birthday, but that doesn’t mean the six-time All-Star is closing in on retirement. On the contrary, Cruz suggested to Phil Miller of the Star Tribune that he still has enough gas in the tank to play beyond the 2020 campaign.
“I don’t see it [soon],” Cruz said of calling it quits sometime soon, and he went on to state that “my body is in good shape, and I’m doing everything I can to keep it that way. Why would I retire?”
Indeed, based on the eye-popping offensive numbers he has put up over the past few seasons, Cruz doesn’t look like someone who’s anywhere near the finish line. Cruz was a force with the Mariners from 2015-18 over 2,558-plate appearance tenure in which he slashed .284/.362/.546 (147 wRC+) with 163 home runs, and he only got better a year ago.
Owing to his age and his inability to factor in as a defender, Cruz didn’t secure a multiyear guarantee in free agency after his time in Seattle ended. He instead inked a one-year, $14.3MM deal with the Twins, though that contract did come with a $12MM club option for 2020. The Twins exercised it this past offseason, which was a no-brainer in light of the production Cruz posted in Year 1 in Minnesota. While Cruz only played in 120 games, his fewest since 2013, he still managed to amass 41 home runs across 521 PA and slash .311/.392/.639 – good for a personal-high wRC+ of 163. His HR total played a major role in the Twins setting a single-season record with 307.
Although Cruz is seemingly dead set on playing past 2020, that doesn’t mean he’ll continue to don a Twins uniform. Cruz is a pending free agent, and if he turns in another banner year and the National League keeps the DH going forward, he could encounter a robust market for someone his age. The Twins have shown interest in extending Cruz, though, so perhaps those talks will pick back up now that the league has lifted its freeze on transactions.