Despite being in the twilight of his career, a rumored deal for slugger Nelson Cruz (who turns 39 in July) became a reality Thursday after the club and Cruz agreed on a one-year deal worth $14 million, according to various reports. The Twins also have a $12 million club option for 2020 with a $300,000 buyout, according to MLB.com.
This deal will make a whole lot of sense if Cruz can continue to produce at the plate as he has the past four seasons. Over that span, he hit 37 or more home runs per season, including 44 in 2015. And he did that at Safeco Field in Seattle, a ballpark known for being difficult on power hitters. If Cruz could do that at Safeco, Target Field should be a cinch.
The Twins slugged 166 home runs last season, which ranked 12th out of 15 teams in the American League. But the Twins are likely to surpass that total if all holds true and the team gets 30 home runs out of Cruz, C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop, plus a consistent contribution out of Eddie Rosario and noticeable improvement from Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. If all goes as planned, the Twins are poised to have a fairly formidable lineup.
However, now that Cruz is here, speculation has it that ex-Yankee prospect Tyler Austin is out of a job because Cruz will fill the designated hitter slot. I’m happy to have Cruz over Austin, but I still think the Twins need to find that starting pitcher who can replace Ervin Santana.
Some reaction to the Cruz news:
My biggest concern with Cruz was tying up the DH spot for an extended period on a team in flux with so many moving parts. The low guaranteed commitment (1 year, $14.3m) mitigates that. Tough to knock this deal much.
— Nick Nelson (@NickNelsonMN) December 27, 2018
Not only is Nelson Cruz a huge addition to a Twins lineup that's now packed with right-handed sluggers, signing him signals that the front office is planning several more moves. They have a set lineup and plenty of money to spend. Pitching help is next. https://t.co/PpNoHFe9Dr
— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) December 28, 2018
Twins are going to hit some 💣 💣 💣 this year https://t.co/kkRbta0UU3
— Phil Mackey (@PhilMackey) December 27, 2018
Nelson Cruz hit 74 homers over the past 4 seasons at Safeco Field, which is extremely pitcher friendly. It ranked 4th on ESPN’s Park Factors. Target Field ranks 15th. Cruz in his career at Target Field is hitting .325/.355/.667 w/ 10 homers in 124 PAs. #MNTwins
— Dan Hayes (@DanHayesMLB) December 28, 2018