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Sorry, Minnesota Fans, but the Twins Should Avoid Nelson Cruz in Free Agency


As a former “old friend” and fan favorite, Nelson Cruz has been a popular name thrown around for a potential reunion. Taking a deeper look, though, Twins fans should re-evaluate their desires to bring back the Boomstick.

Image courtesy of Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

 

It’s “big bat” week at Twins Daily and what bigger bat is there in free agency this offseason than Nelson Cruz? I mean, the guy has 459 career home runs and won a Silver Slugger in his two full seasons in Minnesota. So, should the Minnesota Twins pursue Cruz?

Well, Nelson Cruz does fit the bill for some of what the Minnesota Twins need. 

First, the Twins might be in need of some locker room leadership in 2023. By all accounts, Carlos Correa was the locker room leader for the Twins in 2022, and if the Twins fail to retain him this offseason, that leadership void will need to be filled. Cruz was undoubtedly the veteran leader for the Twins in his years in Minnesota, and he could definitely step in and fill those shoes.

Secondly, Cruz does fit the bill for some of what the Minnesota Twins need. The Twins need a right-handed bat as they were terrible against left-handed pitching in 2022, placing 11th in the American League with a .701 OPS against southpaws. 

 

While Cruz indeed swung a boomstick during his tenure in Minnesota, he is no longer the same player. Ever since the Twins traded Cruz away, his play has absolutely fallen off of a cliff. In the year-and-a-half since leaving Minnesota, Cruz has posted a lowly .675 OPS, with just 23 home runs across 745 plate appearances. Additionally, Cruz’s OPS, hard hit%, and wOBA have decreased in each of the past four seasons.

Cruz will be entering into his age 42 year season. In the expansion era, only three players have qualified for the batting title at the age of 42. Father time is catching up with Cruz quickly, and the Twins would be wise to stay away.

More importantly, the Twins really don’t have a strong need for a designated hitter. Last season, the Twins finished with the sixth highest bWAR in Major League Baseball from the designated hitter position. The biggest reasoning for that was that the two leaders in plate appearances for the Twins at designated hitter last season were Luis Arraez and Byron Buxton . The designated hitter was a great tool that the Twins were able to cycle through their oft-injured stars like Arraez and Buxton, and while they still suffered injuries, the DH spot was helpful in their ability to squeeze as many plate appearances out of certain players that they could.

We all love Nelson Cruz. But the Minnesota Twins would be best served to stay away from him in free agency.

Do you want the Twins to go after Nelson Cruz in free agency? Leave a comment and start the conversation!


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MN was a great place for Cruz to practice his routine of rest & training, and Cruz rewarded us with great production. I doubt he got the same treatment with the Nats. I believe most people by now, know that I go beyond stats, I look at the under  lying conditions. IMO if Cruz returns to his old routine in MN his #s would resemble the old Cruz.

I'm not a fan of Buxton at DH, either play him at CF or if he's hurt, deal with it with treatment & rest or IL. Cruz is getting older so he'd need more rest so Arreaz will get his time at DH. We need his leadership & production. He should come cheap, Cruz knows his own body & when he needs to quit & when he does hopefully he'll become a Twins coach.

To me a reunion makes perfect sense.

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1 minute ago, Nine of twelve said:

I would love to have the 2019 Nelson Cruz on the roster. The 2023 Nelson Cruz? No.

That sums it up, for the specific question posed by the article.

I like the idea of an everyday DH.  One benchmark for contending is looking at your typical lineup and assessing whether or not you have an advantage over Opponent A, Opponent B, and so on, at each spot.  E.g. if you have an average starting shortstop, you'll have an advantage some days, a disadvantage on others, and to contend you'll have to find your advantage somewhere else in the lineup.  If the opponent is running the typical "rest a guy by DHing him," there's a good chance that your dedicated DH will be exactly the advantage you want, on most days.

I like the dedicated DH also because you're not paying for a major league caliber glove sitting the bench.  Just because it's a different idle glove on each of the 162 days doesn't mean it's not a waste.  When Cruz was in his heyday for us, we were getting a bat that normally would cost us $25M a year, for the low, low bargain price of $12-14M.  For a team with budgetary constraints, that's an advantage.

Unfortunately, Nelson isn't that guy anymore.  I'd be in favor of someone else though, except....

To roster an everyday DH, you can't also have your roster peppered with "and if nothing else, he can DH" types.  This is different than the "whoever needs a rest can DH" philosophy.  When your roster starts to suffer from sclerosis of the veins, from an oversupply of "corner" defenders who in reality are stretched even for that duty, a full-time DH is the opposite of what you want.  I'm not a fan of that approach to roster construction, but it's what we've got, so I don't want to sign a DH this off-season.

So that's two reasons for a no vote on Nelson.

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On 11/19/2022 at 7:12 PM, Blyleven2011 said:

A bench coach or hitting coach  , he could help mentor the players  ...

Don't know if he has anything left in the tank as his numbers have slid downwards  ...

 

I think that may be because of where he is at; look at his number with the Twins before they dumped him and then look at his numbers with the new team, huge difference.

He liked it here and he said while he thought he might be traded, he was still surprised when it happened; I also believe his being gone was one reason Sano tanked.

I would love to see him back in the line-up, he could do Miranda a lot of good.

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