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Remaining Offseason Needs: DH

Posted by ebergdib , 24 January 2021 · 1,277 views

nelson cruz marcell ozuna
If the season started tomorrow, the Twins would not favored to repeat as division champions. Don’t get me wrong, I would say they still have good odds to make the playoffs, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for a ticker tape parade down Nicollet Mall the first week of November. On paper, the current squad weighs in slightly below that of the 2020 team. Top prospect Alex Kirilloff replaces Eddie Rosario as the heir-apparent to the Left Field position, J.A. Happ slots in for Rich Hill, and Hansel Robles essentially fills in for Sergio Romo in the ‘pen as a mid-to-high leverage righty – although his numbers are not quite at Romo’s level in the length of beard category. The biggest change to the roster as it stands today is a Nelson Cruz-shaped hole at the DH spot.

Luckily, the season does not start tomorrow, and President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey confirmed that “we’re not finished” in terms of making moves this offseason. The biggest priority at this point really should be bringing back Cruz to anchor the DH role. As it stands now, Brent Rooker would likely slot in at DH. According to ZiPS 2021 projections, Rooker is looked at a bit unfavorably as just above replacement level with a 0.5 WAR. I had been open to exploring other options for DH, but with Michael Brantley (2.9 WAR) re-signing with Houston for two years and $32MM and Marcell Ozuna (4.1 WAR) likely to command a four-year deal (I think the Twins should avoid a lengthy commitment there), Cruz (3.1 WAR) remains the most logical solution – but as with Ozuna, length is of the essence.

It has been reported that Cruz is looking for a two-year deal, but entering his age-41 season in 2021, the Twins are wary of committing to multiple years, and I don’t blame them. Cruz is at the age where things can fall off quickly – and started to show some potential signs of decline toward the end of the 2020 season – so going year-to-year is the right call. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman recently reported that the Twins have increased their offer to Cruz, likely meaning they are willing to pay a premium to only commit to one year. Perhaps the two parties could meet in the middle, with one year guaranteed and a team option, not unlike the deal that originally brought Cruz to Minnesota prior to 2019. This would give the Twins flexibility and peace of mind should Nellie crash and burn. In order to sweeten the pot for Cruz, the team could include a high-dollar buyout that would guarantee a large payday for the slugger, perhaps 1 year/$12M, with a second-year option for $12M, but a $6M buyout, guaranteeing Boomstick $18M and maxing out at $24M before he rides off into the sunset.

Another possibility is to have the option automatically vest at a certain benchmark. I’m not sure which statistic would make most sense to utilize as the benchmark, but homeruns seem like an obvious option at least. Maybe it vests for $10M at 30 HRs and increases by $500,000 for every HR after that.

Now of course bringing back Nellie as DH isn’t the only way to add some much-needed offense into this lineup – especially given the strong SS/utility market – but Cruz’s presence and leadership both on and off the field is something to be valued as well. You could argue he has been the face of the franchise since arriving in 2019, and it would be weird not seeing him in a Twins uniform this upcoming season. Hopefully the two sides are able to work out a deal and complete the reunion.

What are your thoughts? Should the Twins bring back Nelson Cruz? If so, what combination of dollars and years gets it done?




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strumdatjaguar
Jan 24 2021 11:00 AM
Remember, the Twins want to put Josh Donaldson at DH more often - to protect his calf muscle. The remaining days should have a combination of Sano, Larnach, Rooker other rested “everyday players” (like Polanco after Twins pick up SS).