The Minnesota Twins transformed with the signing of the soon-to-be 40-year old slugger and the Twins are hopeful they can keep him around past 2020.
The transformation of the Minnesota Twins from American League Central doormat to the Bomba Squad kicked off last winter when they brought Nelson Cruz in on a modest one-year deal. After a season in which he hit .311 and smashed 41 HR with 108 RBI, the Twins decided to pick up an option for this season in which Cruz will turn 40 in July.
Despite his advanced age, however, the Twins are open to the idea of keeping Cruz around past the final year of his deal. Speaking at the team’s annual TwinsFest event, General Manager Thad Levine told fans during a Q&A session that the team has been in talks with Cruz’s agent to “discuss mutual interest in the future.”
"“We brought Nelson Cruz in here last year in the hope that he could really propel the franchise forward both on the field and maybe more impactfully in the clubhouse,” Levine said via Judd Zulgad of SKOR North. “I think he did more than we could have ever dreamed. His fingerprints were all over that team last year.”"
Outside of his offensive ability, Cruz became an instant leader in the clubhouse. There’s no way to quantify how that leadership affected the rest of the team, but with Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler and Miguel Sano all enjoying breakout seasons, it seems like keeping Cruz in the clubhouse is a good idea even as he enters his 40s.
"“He’s one of those unique players right now who seems to be giving Father Time the business,” Levine said. “Most of us aren’t blessed with that ability. Everything we’ve heard from him is he loves it here, everything he’s heard from us is we love having him here.”"
It will be curious to see how these talks advance as the season goes along as Cruz is expected to be an important cog of a lineup that smacked an MLB-record 307 home runs last season and just added Josh Donaldson (who hit 37 HR with the Atlanta Braves in 2019). If Cruz duplicates his impact from 2019, there’s a good chance that talks of an extension could intensify.