Cruz reunites with Twins (source)

February 3rd, 2021

Even at his age, continued to crush in the heart of the Twins' stacked lineup between 2019-20, with a .308/.394/.626 slash line, with 57 homers and 141 RBIs in 735 plate appearances (173 games). Now that Cruz is a full-time designated hitter, his bat was his main selling point.

Below is a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the 40-year-old slugger.

Cruz returning to Twins (source)

Feb. 2: It may have taken longer than both he and Twins fans would have liked, but Cruz indeed appears to be returning to Minnesota. Sources confirmed to that the Twins and Cruz have agreed to a one-year, $13 million deal for 2021. More >

Braves, Dodgers in on Cruz if there's a DH in NL?

Jan. 31: If there is to be a designated hitter in the NL this year, Nelson Cruz will have potential suitors from the Senior Circuit, and two "strong candidates" may be the Braves and Dodgers, reports MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.

The Braves, coming off three straight NL East titles, are looking to fill a vacancy created by the free agency of Marcell Ozuna, who also would be a candidate, though possibly out of Atlanta's price range. With Cruz, a one- or two-year deal could work for both sides, and the Braves have a proclivity for short deals with potentially higher annual average values (AAV). The Dodgers, meanwhile, look to defend their World Series title and, as Heyman notes, also have a proclivity to offer shorter contracts with higher AAV.

The Twins also remain a contender for Cruz and, according to Heyman, would prefer a one-year deal to keep their DH of the past two seasons in Minnesota.

Report: Twins, Cruz 'revive' contract negotiations

Jan. 30: Following a long pause as Cruz continues to wait and see whether the designated hitter will span all of MLB in 2021 or just the AL, he and the Twins have resumed negotiations, according to The Athletic's Dan Hayes (subscription required). Hayes reports that Minnesota's president of baseball operations Derek Falvey called the talks "active and productive."

Entering his age-40 season, Cruz continues to defy time, remaining one of the game's premier sluggers -- over the past two seasons with the Twins (173 games), Cruz hit .308/.394/.626 with 57 homers, and the two sides appear to be reengaging with Spring Training around the corner.

There have been other AL clubs interested in Cruz, of course, but some NL clubs have checked in as well, according to's Jon Paul Morosi.

Report: Twins increase offer to Cruz

Jan. 22: The Twins have upped their one-year offer to Cruz, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports. However, the 40-year-old slugger may continue to wait to see if the National League adopts the designated-hitter rule for 2021, which would likely boost his market.

Cruz hasn’t played a single game on defense since 2018, when he made four appearances in right field.

Even with the current uncertainty surrounding the DH in the NL, Cruz is drawing interest from some Senior Circuit clubs, as’s Jon Paul Morosi recently reported.

Cruz spent the past two seasons with the Twins and hit 57 homers with a 1.020 OPS over 173 games.

Cruz drawing interest from AL and NL teams

Jan. 18: While no decision has been made regarding the designated hitter in the National League in 2021, multiple teams in both leagues are showing "ongoing interest" in Cruz, a source told’s Jon Paul Morosi.

Morosi notes that he heard the same thing regarding Marcell Ozuna last week, perhaps indicating that NL clubs expect there to be a universal DH in the upcoming season.

The NL adopted the DH during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, but it was a one-year rule change. To institute the rule in 2021, it would need to be collectively bargained between MLB and the MLB Players Association.

Cruz has hit .308/.394/.626 (168 OPS+) with 57 homers in 173 games since the beginning of 2019, and he’s averaged 45 home runs per 162 games over the past seven seasons.

However, the 40-year-old didn’t play a single game on defense during his two seasons with the Twins, and he appeared in only nine games in the field over 2017-18. If there's no DH, his market will surely be limited to American League teams.

If NL adopts DH, could Padres get involved for Cruz?

Jan. 7: Cruz's market remains in somewhat of a standstill as the baseball world waits for clarity on whether the National League will operate with the designated hitter. That decision could influence whether Cruz's market opens up with 15 more potential suitors, or whether he's limited to the AL -- where a reunion with the Twins would become the most likely option.

In an appearance on the "Locked on Twins" podcast Tuesday, KSTP's Darren Wolfson threw out this winter's most aggressive club as one that could throw its hat into the Boomstick mix, should the NL indeed adopt the DH.

“I’m positive the San Diego Padres have interest in Nellie Cruz," said Wolfson, "but at this point we just don’t know if the DH will exist in the National League. So if you’re Nelson Cruz, you’re just sitting back and waiting. If you’re Kyle Schwarber or Michael Brantley, you’re sitting back and waiting. Those are all names that the Twins have inquired on, but it’s a stare-down.” 

The Padres already have a good number of options for DH at-bats, particularly after signing Ha-Seong Kim at second base when they already had NL Rookie of the Year award contender Jake Cronenworth at that position. But in what appears to be an all-in window for the Friars and general manager A.J. Preller, netting Cruz's big bat would help them draw even closer with the Dodgers in the NL West arms race.

Could Cruz return to Twins?

Dec. 26:'s Anthony Castrovince sums up the best fits for each remaining free agent from the top 25, doling out only one free agent per team. Cruz returning to the Twins, where he's spent the past two seasons, is the best fit according to Castrovince. The slugger has been a fan favorite and has been a key member of the 'Bomba Squad' as the Twins have transformed into a perennial competitor in the AL Central.

Baldelli makes his pitch to Nellie

Dec. 15: Cruz may be waiting for clear resolution in regards to what happens with the DH in the National League in 2021 before he makes his free-agency decision. But in the meantime, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli took an opportunity to make his pitch to the Boomstick.

Cruz and the Twins remain mutually interested in a reunion, per multiple recent reports. But it never hurts to have the club's skipper come out and show his support to try and push the needle a little bit further.

Report: Twins, Cruz continue discussions

Dec. 9: The Twins remain engaged in talks with Cruz, and the two sides “continue to state their preference for a reunion,” according to a report from Dan Hayes of The Athletic (subscription required).

A source told’s Jon Paul Morosi last month that Cruz was unlikely to sign with a team until there was more clarity on the designated-hitter spot in the National League.

The NL used the DH as part of the protocols put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic-shortened campaign in 2020, but it was a one-year change. For the NL to have the DH in 2021, it would need to be collectively bargained between MLB and the MLB Players Association.

MLB reportedly sent out a memo this week advising teams to proceed as if there won’t be a universal DH in 2021, though nothing is set in stone at this point.

Cruz hit .308/.394/.626 with 57 homers over 173 games with the Twins in the past two seasons, but he didn’t make a single appearance in the field.

Per Hayes, Cruz is likely looking for a raise after earning an average of $13 million per year in 2018-19, as this could be the last contract the 40-year-old signs.

Cruz ranked No. 1 free-agent DH by

Nov. 2: Cruz is the best available free-agent DH this offseason, according to executive reporter Mark Feinsand in his breakdown of the top free agents at each position.

Feinsand ranks the ageless Cruz ahead of other veteran bats like Edwin Encarnación, Shin-Soo Choo and Matt Kemp. But Cruz's production puts him in a tier by himself compared to the rest, which could help him get the two-year deal he's reportedly looking for.

In his age-39 season in 2020, Cruz remained one of the top sluggers in the league, hitting .303/.397/.595 with 16 home runs and a .992 OPS in 53 games for the Twins. That production is everything you want from a DH.