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Unthinkable? Let Cruz go after 2020?

Posted by stringer bell , 21 September 2020 · 5,795 views

40+ years old roster construction hitting prospects designated hitter
Unthinkable? Let Cruz go after 2020? Nelson Cruz has been everything the Twins could have expected for 2019 and 2020. He's stayed relatively healthy, hit both with power and for average, he's been available to play except for two ten-day stays on the Injured List and he has been a team leader and mentor for all players on his team. Cruz has been far and away the best hitter both last year and this year.

Despite all of his contributions, I am not sure my favorite team should bring back Nelson Cruz for the 2021 season. There is a truism that it is better to move off a player a year too soon than a year too late. Father Time is looking hard at Nelson Cruz and at some point he will slow down. Actually, I wonder if he might have started slowing down at this point. Cruz is striking out more lately and not hitting with as much power as he did in the first half of this shortened season. Cruz has managed to keep his batting average up, but he only has three homers and 3 RBI in the 20 days of September. I don't know what will happen next year, but I would think that there is a chance Cruz' production will drop, perhaps dramatically.

Also to consider is what the roster will look like next year and how Nelson would fit in it. The team has probably three corner OF/DH/1B prospects ready to play next year. Keeping Cruz would mean that for 90% of the games that Cruz isn't injured, he will fill the DH role. That leaves no real place for Kirilloff, Rooker and Larnach. Letting Eddie Rosario go could allow playing time for one of these guys, but still leaves a bit of a logjam. Using the DH spot as a half day off for regulars might be a better plan.

Nelson Cruz has provided 1.7 WAR this year after 55 games, which would translate into over 5 WAR for a full season. His OPS this year is 1.026, just down from last year's 1.032. Cruz's OPS+ is actually higher this year 178 vs. 168 and he achieved 4.2 WAR for the full season last year. He has served as a role model for the younger players, particularly Hispanic players.It would certainly be a tough call to let him leave the Twins, but I don't think it is out of the question.

  • mikelink45 likes this



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Crackedfungo
Sep 21 2020 04:17 PM

This is idiocy.You don't just cut loose your best hitter for a slight power drought month in this strange year.I love the prospects in the pipeline, but other than Rooker, neither AK or TL has 'earned their way' out of AA (and even AAA).I would bring them up for an injury.I might event bring them up to replace a Kepler or Rosario (if one were traded).What I would NOT do, is not re-sign Nelson, thinking we need to find room from all three of these players next year.  

    • jun likes this
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SgtSchmidt11
Sep 21 2020 05:42 PM

Obviously it depends on the contract, but I see no particular reason why the Twins should be looking to move on from Cruz.Great hitter and great clubhouse presence.

 

I would move on from Rosario, and sign somebody like Kevin Pillar (who can not only come off the bench to steal a base, but also serve as a defensive replacement in late innings and serve as Buxton insurance) to man LF until a prospect is ready.

 

If the prospect comes up, you've got one of the best fourth outfielders in the league, and if he doesn't you have a perfectly serviceable LF'er, probably for cheaper then Rosario.

    • jun and GNess like this
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ChrisKnutson
Sep 21 2020 05:47 PM
If there’s really a logjam perhaps now is the best time to deal from a surplus (Most likely Rooker) rather than let go one of the team’s first serious MVP candidate in quite a while.
    • jun likes this

I like this article.It's not idiocy. I've been thinking the same thing (Maybe we're both idiots?)Of course you can't base this decision on two or three weeks of low productivity.Hitters go into slumps all the time.But the guy is 40 years old.And we do have a log jam of outfields coming up.If Cruz commands a big salary--and I think he will--we definitely should consider not signing him!

 

    • mikelink45 likes this

Interesting take, but I tend to disagree. The Twins should be well aware of Nelson Cruz's health issues if any beyond being 40+. If those check out the Twins should most. certainly bring him back if his contract demands are in any way reasonable. 
He also provides many qualities that make for a better and more cohesive team.

    • jun and DocBauer like this

I will admit it: I was not in favor of signing a guy that could only DH at this point.I figured that a fourth or fifth outfielder could be the DH, and play the field when necessary.  

In the immortal words of the comedian Ron White: I was wrong!

So I don't want my opinion now to be tainted by that.If Cruz is available at the right price, AND seems to be healthy, I'd be fine for another year with him.If the NL goes to the DH, though, the first part of that equation may be a problem.15 more possible suitors for him could drive up the price.  

JcS

    • DocBauer likes this

This is a fun post because it challenges everyone to think outside their comfort zone.It is really challenging to know at what point that old father time is going to smack you down.I am 75 and committed to guiding more hiking trips in 2021, but after two back surgeries this year I expected everything to work and now I have an achilles tendon problem.You just never know - but I can guarantee I could not have hit a 100 mile fastball when I was 41 because I could not hit one when I was in my 20s or 30s.

    • DocBauer likes this
Just want to re-iterate that Stringer is posing a question, not stating an opinion. And I get it. But I think Cruz is still at the top of his game. A couple possible positives to come out of this short season is that Cruz, and Donaldson, are playing fewer games in total. This pushes father time's athletic clock for each further forward by almost a season. That leaves more gas in the tank for both as hitters, and Donaldson as a fielder.

All of this places Odorizzi in the Twins hands as well, but that is a different topic.

I don't believe a recent slump by Cruz diminishes his value in any way. Guys slump here and there. It happens.

The problem may be demand from the rest of the league as the DH is sure to stick now. One of the many negative aspects of covid '20 is no milb season. The Twins, and ALL TEAMS, are affected in how to evaluate even top prospect readiness for 2021? Is Cruz worth even more as a proven comoddity? (Hate that term, but just being realistic). Or does age and financial implications keep the market down as we all expect?

Cruz is not done, IMO. And he brings a real experience and leadership quality to this team that can't be denied. Maybe just as important, what does Cruz want? The Twins have treated him well. He seems to enjoy being part of this team, a team with an open window even beyond this season.

I ABSOLUTELY would offer him for next season somewhere around what be bas been earning. Something between $12-14M. I might even offer a 2nd year with a nice buy out. Do you go a 2nd year guaranteed? Can you afford it?

And that's the rub. He NEEDS to come back. But in the strange, unknown financial world of MLB right now, would some team offer him a guaranteed 2yr $30M deal? If so, I think the Twins might have to pass. But I just don't see that happening. I hope I'm right. But I would absolutely bring him back on a 1yr, even with an option that is decent. Sometimes, you have to be willing to eat a contract year, even if you are a mid-market team like the Twins.

This will probably be up to Cruz. I would much rather keep him, even if he does decline. You can always not play him. But you can't put him in the lineup if he is not on your team. One decline year won't hurt the Twins at all. I mean seriously.... they put Astudillo on the roster! Cruz is good for the team.

    • jun likes this
Cruz will be able to get more with the DH now in the National league. It will probably take a 2 year deal in the 32 to 34 million range. There could be a COVID adjustment down due to loss of revenues. But based off of pre COVID. I think it would take that much at minimum.

We have plenty of salary room for next year I would sign Cruz.Best hitter we have had in a long time. If there is demand for DH's it may help the market for Rooker or any other surplus outfielder.

    • jun likes this