It’s no secret that the Twins are keen on bringing back Nelson Cruz. But for now, let’s focus on the moves the team could make that would best maximize both their roster and ability to spend on other free agents.
Currently, the Twins DH spot is projected to be a revolving door of players led by Alex Kirilloff and Brent Rooker totaling a WAR of 1.0, 4th worst in the American League.
The Twins can do better.
Here are some DH options for the Twins. I noted both how the Twins would benefit in “net WAR” as well as the 2021 estimated salary of each player (via Fangraphs).
“Net WAR” in this scenario is the difference between the Fangraphs Depth Chart projection for each player below and the current Twins DH starter’s projection.
For this purpose, we will use the projections combining Rooker and Kirilloff’s stats - so .5 WAR as the baseline.
For example: Nelson Cruz’s Depth Chart projection is 1.9 WAR. So to calculate “net WAR” you subtract 1.9 from .5 and are left with +1.4 wins.
*All WAR projections use Fangraphs Depth Charts
Marcell Ozuna: +2.8 WAR ($17.5M)
Michael Brantley: +1.6 WAR ($15M) *has since signed with the Blue Jays
Nelson Cruz: +1.4 WAR ($15M)
Eddie Rosario: +.9 WAR ($6M)
Kris Bryant: +2.4 WAR ($19.5M)
Nick Castellanos: +.3 WAR ($16M)
This is not a perfect formula. There are a lot of moving parts in each of these instances due to how each player would impact the rest of the team. For example, signing Ozuna or Brantley would most likely mean their playing time would be spread out between LF and DH with Kirilloff/Rooker rotating in either position. Not to mention, both Brantley and Ozuna’s projections have their defense contributions factored in, that would likely change if they were DH only.
In any case, the additions above would improve the Twins.
If the Twins can get Ozuna or Brantley on a 2-year deal, the positional flexibility gained from these signings alone might put the Twins in the best spot. Rocco can mix and match the lineup however he sees fit and use the DH spot as a revolving door to give players days off and play matchups.
The Twins have done a nice job of developing players to play multiple positions so on any given day the lineup could look like this:
LF: Ozuna or Brantley/Rooker/Kirilloff
DH: Any player
I love Nelson Cruz and would love him back but age and lack of a defensive position at times limits the Twins. Kris Bryant is a pipe dream (sorry, everyone) and Castellanos only makes sense in a scenario where the Twins acquire Sonny Gray or Luis Castillo and Castellanos is thrown in as a salary dump.
In the comments below, let me know who you think the Twins should sign and why!