Wolfson: Despite Lack of Action, Nelson Cruz Wants to Remain a Twin
Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports“The Twins haven’t even come close to being as aggressive for Nelson Cruz as other teams.”
If the Designated Hitter is not expanded to the National League, Cruz’s list of suitors shrinks considerably. It’s not a surprise, then, that both the Twins and Cruz are hesitant to move forward on a deal. Wolfson acknowledged that the Twins want their heartbeat back and Cruz’s “number one choice” is to return in a Twins uniform. Wolfson said the Padres have shown interest in the 40-year-old masher.
“The Twins have brought Marcell Ozuna’s name up.”
Similar to Cruz, Ozuna has very little incentive to sign a contract until the DH rules are finalized. Ozuna bet on himself after a down 2019 season, signing a 1-year, $18 million deal with Atlanta for 2020. This move replaced the also-right-handed Josh Donaldson in Atlanta’s lineup after he signed with the Twins. Ozuna responded by hitting a monstrous .338 with a 1.067 OPS and an NL-leading 18 home runs. His 179 wRC+ ranked behind only Juan Soto and Freddie Freeman among MLB-qualifiers. MLB Trade Rumors projects Ozuna, who just turned 30, to receive a four-year, $72 million deal.
Wolfson “would be surprised” if the Twins traded for Cubs’ Javier Báez
The Yu Darvish trade spurred speculation that the Cubs could sell off more of their expiring contracts. Báez fits that bill. He has one more year of arbitration at a projected $11 million. The superstar defender struggled mightily at the plate in 2020, hitting .203 with an OPS more than 40% below league average. Báez was one of many usually good hitters who struggled in the truncated season. The electric brother-in-law of Twins starter José Berríos has the fourth most home runs (108) among qualified shortstops since 2016. Báez is also a terrific defender, saving more runs (33) than any shortstop in baseball over the last two seasons.
"The Twins have had dialogue with Andrelton Simmons"
Wolfson said, along with Marcus Semien, the Twins have at least inquired on the former Angel. Simmons is entering free agency after playing only 30 games in 2020 due to a left ankle injury. The 31-year-old ranks 10th among all position players in bWAR (36.8) since his rookie season in 2012. Simmons is perhaps the best defender in all of baseball. He’s saved 191 runs in his career, more than any player at any position during that time. The difference in DRS between Simmons and the second-placed Kevin Kiermaier (69) is the same as the difference between Kiermaier and the 32nd-placed Byron Buxton. Simmons is no pushover at the plate either. He’s hit a respectable .281/.329/.401 (99 wRC+) with 129 extra-base hits in 437 games since 2017.
The Twins talk parameters of varying contracts with RH RP Joakim Soria
Even after signing Hansel Robles to a 1-year, $2M deal, the Twins are seemingly in the market for another right-handed reliever. Wolfson said the Twins offered Soria a one-year deal for “more than Robles got” but not signficantly more. Wolfson went on to say the Twins also talked a two-year deal with Soria, albeit with less average annual value. It remains to be seen whether the two sides strike a deal. I pegged Soria as a strong fit for the Twins earlier this offseason.
The Twins have inquired on “almost every” top free agent
Wolfson made sure to say that inquiries are much different than offers. It sounds like the Twins are doing their due diligence, surveying the market and looking for ways to extract value. Wolfson says he believes the Twins have asked about “70-plus” free agents.
The Twins have “100%” called on Sonny Gray and Joe Musgrove
Wolfson believes the Twins are also exploring the trade market for upgrades. Reports have addressed the availability of both Gray and Musgrove. Gray has more pedigree with two top-10 Cy Young finishes and a career 117 ERA+. Musgrove is coming off a year where his strikeout rate ballooned to 33%, enticing many that he could thrive away from the rebuilding and less-progressive Pirates.
"The Twins will move; it’s just a matter of when"
This offseason has been slow for most teams, including the Twins. That doesn’t signify that significant additions aren’t on the way. Wolfson says the Twins have the payroll flexibility to make impact moves. In simple terms, hang tight.
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