The recent memo instructing MLB teams to prepare under the assumption that there won’t be a DH in the NL next season has not expedited talks between the Twins and Nelson Cruz, reports Dan Hayes of The Athletic. As the two sides continue their staredown of sorts, the Twins have also “checked in” on alternate options like Michael Brantley, Kyle Schwarber and Adam Duvall, per Hayes.
It’s worth noting that, per ESPN’s Buster Olney, despite that memo from MLB, most people around the game still expect MLB and the MLBPA to eventually work out a deal to add a universal DH next year. The league and union weren’t exactly expeditious in their last several waves of negotiations, taking months to hammer out return-to-play conditions and then agreeing to expanded playoffs mere hours before the season’s first pitch was thrown.
Cruz is reportedly seeking a two-year deal and waiting resolution on the universal DH before determining where he’ll sign for the upcoming season(s). The Twins have good reason to want him back after an outstanding .308/.394/.626 output with 57 home runs in 735 plate appearances between the 2019-20 seasons. However, if Cruz’s market is limited to American League clubs, they’d have added leverage in trying to bring him back on a one-year deal — perhaps with a club option, as was the case with his last contract. Any deal for Cruz figures to come with a raise over the $13MM annual rate at which he played out his two years with the Twins.
With regard to the other names on which the Twins have inquired, Brantley is the most accomplished hitter of the bunch and has a connection with Twins president of baseball ops Derek Falvey, who was an assistant GM in Cleveland prior to being hired by Minnesota. It’d be a bit of a surprise to see the Twins bring either Schwarber or Duvall aboard, as they were non-tendered on the same day that Minnesota cut Eddie Rosario loose.
That said, the Twins seemingly intend to give top prospect Alex Kirilloff a legitimate crack at an everyday job in 2021. Either Schwarber or Duvall could give some DH cover and provide an experienced left field alternative — perhaps at a lesser rate than Rosario would’ve commanded — should Kirilloff struggle. In-house alternatives include Jake Cave and Brent Rooker.