At the outset of the offseason, Nelson Cruz was said to be seeking a two-year deal, in theory from the Minnesota Twins. Not much has changed on that front, though as time wears on, it seems less and less likely the Twins will meet his demand. Coming off back-to-back silver slugger awards as the Twins’ designated hitter, it would seem a given that Minnesota would do whatever necessary to bring back Cruz, even as he enters his age-40 season. He’s a team leader, a fan favorite, and a standout citizen, evidenced by being the Twins’ Roberto Clemente Award nominee in 2020 and in winning the Marvin Miller Man Of The Year Award for being the player who has earned the “most respect based on his leadership on the field and in the community,” as explained the Star Tribune’s La Velle E. Neal III back in October.
Under a different context, the opportunity to add a 163 wRC+ hitter for two years at $14MM per season would be almost too good to believe. Under the current context, however, the Twins have yet to sign Cruz, nor even has there been much in the way of dialogue, per Neal’s newest piece for the Star Tribune. Neal consulted with multiple sources to provide a timeline of Cruz’s negotiation with the Twins so far this winter.
The Twins made a one-year offer during the opening weeks of free agency, then pulled it off the table after a couple of weeks. A second contract offer was made during the holidays that went nowhere as Cruz’s camp waited for word on the NL. There hasn’t been a lot of back-and-forth negotiating between the sides.
The assumption is there will be no designated hitter in the National League in 2021, which limits the field of potential Cruz suitors, but if the Twins wait long enough, it’s hard to imagine there won’t be more opportunities for Cruz. Interestingly, Neal names the Padres as one NL team that would be interested in Cruz were there to be a DH in the NL. Adding Cruz to any lineup ought to be a boon for that team, though putting him on a Padres roster with Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado could very well make the Friars one of the more highly anticipated rosters MLB has seen in some time. Over the past two seasons, Cruz slashed .308/.394/.626 with a monstrous .318 ISO, 11 percent walk rate, 25.7 percent strikeout rate, 163 wRC+, and 6.2 fWAR over 735 plate appearances.