Even at his age, Nelson Cruz 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 is his main selling
Even at his age, Nelson Cruz 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 is his main selling point, but it's a big enough one that he'll find a home -- likely on a one- or two-year deal -- with an AL team. If the DH remains a part of the Senior Circuit in '21, then his market will double to include all NL clubs.
Below is a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the 40-year-old slugger.
Morosi: Cruz expected to delay free-agent decision
Nov. 19: Cruz is unlikely to sign with a team until there is clarity on the designated-hitter spot in the National League, a source told MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi. If the DH is instituted in the NL for the 2021 campaign, it would have an impact on the free-agent markets for a number of players, including Cruz and Marcell Ozuna.
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.
Cruz is 40 years old, but he remains a potent offensive player, hitting .308/.394/.626 with 57 homers and 141 RBIs in 173 games over the past two years. Cruz has belted 260 homers since the beginning of 2014, 20 more than anyone else.
However, Cruz didn’t make a single appearance on defense over 2019-20, and he logged only nine apperances in the field across '17-18. As a result, Cruz's market is currently limited to AL teams. But if the NL has the DH in 2021, multiple Senior Circuit clubs would likely enter the mix for his services.
Cruz ranked No. 1 free-agent DH by MLB.com
Nov. 2: Cruz is the best available free-agent DH this offseason, according to MLB.com 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.
Report: Twins enter contract negotiations with Cruz
Oct. 30: After hitting 57 homers and posting a .308/.394/.626 batting line over two seasons with the Twins, Cruz is a free agent, but Minnesota could look to re-sign the big designated hitter. In fact, the club has already started talking to Cruz about a new deal, according to Lavelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Cruz just wrapped up a two-year contract with the Twins after four years with the Mariners. Although he's now 40 years old, he remains one of the top sluggers in the game. No MLB player has posted more homers than Cruz's 260 since the beginning of 2014.
Cruz's market could expand if the universal DH is instituted for the 2021 season, but a decision on that might not come until later in the offseason.