ST. PAUL -- The Boomstick is back.
Designated hitter Nelson Cruz agreed to a one-year, $13 million deal to return to the Twins, a source confirmed late Tuesday night. The deal brings a happy conclusion to a long negotiation for a reunion that both sides had been expressing interest in since the beginning of the offseason.
Cruz, 40, has been the heart and soul of the Twins for the past two seasons, leading the team both on the field and in the clubhouse. Showing few signs of slowing down, he hit .303 with a .397 on-base percentage and .595 slugging percentage with 16 home runs in 53 games for the Twins last season.
The year before that, Cruz hit 41 home runs — including his 400th — despite rupturing a tendon in his left wrist during the middle of the season.
In addition to being honored multiple times over for his charitable work, Cruz won a Silver Slugger Award and finished in the top 10 of American League MVP voting in each of the last two seasons. He originally signed a one-year, $14 million deal with the Twins with a $12 million option for 2020 — that wound up being a bargain — before the 2019 season.
But though Cruz said he hoped to be back just minutes after the Twins were eliminated in the Wild Card Series, president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said the feeling was mutual a day later and manager Rocco Baldelli made a public plea to the designated hitter in December, the negotiations still stretched late into the offseason.
The Twins locked up Cruz just a few weeks before players are scheduled to report to Fort Myers, Fla., for spring training, the lengthy negotiations coming in part due to the uncertainty over the universal designated hitter.
For the first time ever, National League teams played with a designated hitter last season. There was a question this offseason about whether that would be the case this year, which would have expanded Cruz’s market and potentially driven up his price. But the league and the MLB Players Association have not agreed to a deal that would make that a reality.
With Cruz now in place, the Twins appear to have finished adding to their position player group, at least on the major-league side. The Twins added shortstop Andrelton Simmons officially on Sunday and have plenty of internal options to replace left fielder Eddie Rosario, including top prospect Alex Kirilloff. They’ve also added starter J.A. Happ and reliever Hansel Robles this offseason. Their remaining needs center around adding pitching.