The Twins made a one-year offer to Nelson Cruz back in October, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports, but at least for the moment, that offer is no longer on the table. The two sides both still hope to work out a reunion, but because Cruz is still seeking a two-year deal, he intends to wait further clarity on the status of the universal designated hitter before agreeing to terms. It’s a sensible approach for Cruz, whose market in the American League is somewhat limited by the number of clubs with aging veterans, dedicated DHs and/or budgetary constraints. A universal DH would open several new pathways for the slugger to land that two-year pact he apparently seeks.
Some more notes out of the Twin Cities…
- In the latest edition of his podcast, SKOR North’s Darren Wolfson reports that the Twins have some interest in former Indians ace Corey Kluber (audio link, Twins chatter beginning at 8:07). That’s not a huge surprise given that president of baseball operations Derek Falvey was in Cleveland’s front office when Kluber was acquired from the Padres and broke out as a star. Elsewhere on the rotation front, Wolfson notes that the Twins are not among the most aggressive suitors for Jake Odorizzi to this point. Odorizzi would prefer to return to Minnesota, all things being equal, but is receiving stronger interest from other teams. Wolfson adds that the Twins had interest in Mike Minor before he landed with the Royals but weren’t willing to go near the surprising two-year, $18MM deal he landed in Kansas City.
- Dan Hayes and Aaron Gleeman of The Athletic break down the Twins’ options at shortstop this winter, ranging from adding a veteran backup in the Freddy Galvis mold to a more aggressive pursuit of a starting shortstop, which would push Jorge Polanco into a super-utility role (an approach outlined in our Twins Offseason Outlook a couple weeks back). With Marcus Semien, Didi Gregorius and Andrelton Simmons on the market, one could craft an argument that any fit the Twins. Polanco has had two ankle surgeries over the past two years and was never a premium defender at short, but as a shortstop/second baseman/third baseman, he could provide value at a number of spots. I’d point out that Simmons has had major ankle injuries in both of the past two seasons, however, so signing him comes with some of the same risks associated with Polanco. The Angels have filled their shortstop vacancy with Jose Iglesias, while each of the Reds, Phillies and A’s have (to varying extents) signified that they’re reducing payroll. That could create an opportunity for the Twins to enter the market if they choose.
- Also at The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal spoke with a number of agents who praised the Twins for their approach to arbitration this winter. The arbitration system is generally archaic, but it is particularly ill-equipped to contextualize the results of a 60-game season. Minnesota is the only club that has entirely wrapped up its arbitration class already, and several player reps tell Rosenthal that the Twins deserve credit for being willing to find a middle ground rather early rather than drawing a hard line to maximize savings. “It took both parties acknowledging the difficulties of a COVID-19 season and the reality that the traditional arbitration matrix was not entirely relevant this offseason,” agent Mark Rodgers, who represents Taylor Rogers, told Rosenthal. Falvey told Rosenthal the Twins “wanted to be creative” prior to the tender deadline. “[Agents] feel no different than we do about the uniqueness of this year, so we decided this was the best course of action,” said Falvey.
- Certainly, the Twins’ approach to arbitration will create some good will with agents moving forward, but the team also stands to benefit. Few other clubs in baseball right now can project their 2021 payroll more accurately than the Twins, which gives Falvey, GM Thad Levine, the rest of the front office and owner Jim Pohlad more clarity as to their spending capacity in the coming months. Minnesota has plenty of work to do this winter, with several relievers departing, a need in the rotation and Cruz on the market. However, The Athletic’s Jayson Stark noted in analyzing this year’s slate of non-tenders that every executive from another club with whom he spoke for the piece expects the Twins to spend this winter. Minnesota’s payroll checks in just shy of $92MM right now — well short of last year’s full-season Opening Day mark of $133MM. They probably won’t spend back up to that level, but it does appear there’s some room for additions.