MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins are bringing back designated hitter Nelson Cruz on a one-year, $13 million contract, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations.
The agreement was reached late Tuesday and confirmed Wednesday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal was pending completion of a physical exam.
Cruz turned 40 last season and batted .303 with 16 home runs, 33 RBIs and a .992 OPS in 53 games during the pandemic-shortened schedule.
He has led the team in homers in each of his two years with the Twins while ranking second and fourth, respectively, in the AL in OPS. The six-time All-Star won Silver Slugger awards in 2019 and 2020, when the Twins won the AL Central both seasons.
Just as valuable to the club has been Cruz's leadership, with his laid-back demeanor and hard-working attitude and an ability to mentor players like first baseman Miguel Sanó, a fellow native of the Dominican Republic. Cruz played through a ruptured tendon in his wrist in 2019. He won the Marvin Miller Man of the Year award in 2020 on a vote by his major league peers, earning respect around the game for his efforts to donate a fire engine and an ambulance and help build a police station in his hometown of Las Matas De Santa Cruz.
No player in the major leagues has more home runs over the last seven seasons than Cruz (260), who also has the third-most RBIs (663) during that span, according to Sportradar data.
Cruz served a 50-game suspension in 2013, his last of eight seasons with the Texas Rangers, for violating the major league drug agreement in relation to the sport’s investigation of the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic. At the time, he said he erred in judgment in the wake of a gastrointestinal infection that wasn’t accurately diagnosed at first and caused him to lose 40 pounds before getting proper treatment.
Minnesota dropped from second in the majors in runs in 2019 to 19th in 2020, with several position players in and out of the lineup because of injuries. Cruz was about the only constant, despite being at least 10 years older than most of the regulars.
The Twins have added shortstop Andrelton Simmons in free agency, which will shift Jorge Polanco to second base and put Luis Arraez in the role as the primary backup position player.
The Twins also signed relief pitcher Hansel Robles and starting pitcher J.A. Happ, with another move or two still likely to shore up the staff about two weeks before spring training is scheduled to begin.
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