Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have landed two more big free agency punches. The intrepid front office duo ended their extended standoff with Nelson Cruz Tuesday night, signing the beloved DH a one-year $13 million deal. Then, they bolstered the bullpen Wednesday afternoon by adding Alex Colomé to an affordable one-year contract with a mutual option for a second season.
In Cruz, we know what we’re getting – or at least we hope we do. The 40-year-old slugger has hit for power as well as anybody in the game in his two seasons in a Twins jersey, but he’s just that – a 40-year-old slugger. Father Time – with a 43-year-old Tom Brady in another Superbowl – has been taking a beating recently, but he’s still undefeated. And though Cruz has been remarkably resistant to decline, he will give way to the inevitability of age soon. The Twins just hope it’s not this year. If Cruz is the same guy he has been, then Nelly will be the lead slugger in a lineup full of them and his $13 million price tag will be money well spent.
Colomé will be pretty familiar with the Twins as well. After all, he’s limited Twins hitters to a .214 average in 22 appearances against the club. Colomé primarily uses a four-seam and cutter to get his outs and, though he has a power arm, he isn’t the strikeout guy some of the rest of the Twins’ relievers are. Instead, he relies on the cutter to create ground balls and soft contact. Colomé’s career ERA is under three and, in his shortened 2020 season, it was 0.81 in 21 appearances. There’s no reason to believe he can’t be that dominant again with the Twins, especially because Minnesota’s revamped infield defense ought to serve a contact pitcher like Colomé very well.
It seems then that, at long last, the Twins have crossed off all the items on their offseason shopping list. After these two moves, the Twins have filled holes in the rotation and the bullpen, and at shortstop and DH. And, though the wait for substantial free agent activity was at times excruciating, the team is better today that it was at the start of the offseason. With one or two more signings for a cheap arm or utility depth, the Twins will be clear AL Central favorites again, if they aren’t already.
Today, at the end of this free agency rush, the worries we as Twins fans had during the dry spell seem silly, and really, they always were. Falvey and Levine haven’t failed us yet, but, like someone fresh out of a toxic relationship, we were expecting to get hurt, even though the person we’re with now has done nothing wrong. Terry Ryan scarred us by sticking to old school baseball well into the 21st century and by paying Ervin Santana, but “Falvine” aren’t like that. They are calculated and competent, patient but opportunistic. They are the perfect duo to have making personnel decisions in the modern-day MLB. Yeah, it took a while, but they were always in control. The Cruz deal moved at a snail’s pace because that’s what was needed to get him on a team-friendly deal. They moved on Simmons almost immediately after Semien signed elsewhere. These guys don’t miss the boat. They don’t hurt the team like Terry Ryan did. They know what they’re doing.
It’ll take time before we get used to the fact that the Twins are a competent, forward-thinking MLB organization. Even now, I’m worried – against my better judgement – that, with a bunch of one-year deals, we’ll have to go through all of this again next offseason. Though that’s probably the case, if getting a better baseball team in exchange for a few months of waiting is all we have to “go through,” then that’s fine by me. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine haven’t “lost” an offseason yet; they just take a while to win them. So, next year, when we do this again, remember who’s in charge and be patient for a few weeks. You’ll probably like where the team ends up.
Update: Minutes after this went up, the Twins dealt for a cheap arm like I mentioned above in Shaun Anderson from the Giants.