Oct. 1: Asked about Cruz’s comments today, Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey tells Park: “The feeling is mutual. We don’t feel any differently than Nellie does. We see a fit for him here, and we’re hopeful that can work out.”
It’s worth noting that GM Thad Levine said back in January that the two sides discussed a new deal. Such business is typically completed in Spring Training, though, and the league’s shutdown and ensuing transactions freeze surely impacted negotiations. Cruz’s camp will undoubtedly be very interested to see whether the 2020 advent of the universal DH becomes a permanent rule change, as that would open up a whole new list of potential suitors. If nothing else, that could create negotiating leverage even if Cruz is intent on a third season in Minnesota.
Sept. 30: Twins superstar designated hitter Nelson Cruz may have played his final game with the team Wednesday in a season-ending defeat against the Astros. If the pending free agent has it his way, though, he’ll remain with the Twins.
“Hopefully, I’ll be back next year,” Cruz said after the Astros swept the Twins in a best-of-three series, Do-Hyoung Park of MLB.com tweets.
Despite yet another all-too-early playoff exit, it’s hard to believe the Twins won’t do everything within reason to retain Cruz. They signed the former Rangers, Orioles and Mariners slugger to a one-year, $14.3MM guarantee with a 2020 option back in January ’19, and he has continued to be a source of nightmares for opposing pitchers since then. After Cruz turned in another dominant season in his only guaranteed year of the deal, the Twins made the easy decision to pick up a $12MM club option last winter.
Cruz, despite having turned 40 in July, repaid the Twins with what may have been the best regular season of his career. He wound up with a career-high 164 wRC+ (tied with Mike Trout for the majors’ seventh-best mark among qualified hitters) and a .303/.397/.595 line with 16 home runs across 214 plate appearances. Cruz hasn’t finished any season with a worse wRC+ than 133 since 2013, so it’s hard to imagine that his production will suddenly fall off a cliff in the near future. And age will limit Cruz’s earning power as heads toward another trip to free agency, which should increase the Twins’ chances of re-signing him to a reasonably priced short-term pact.