Nelson Cruz Aug 8, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) hits a solo home run during the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

After the MLB Players Association rejected MLB’s 154-game season proposal that would include a universal designated hitter, it became clear that DH Nelson Cruz would be staying in the American League. And it’s no surprise that he’s also staying with the team that he had tremendous success with over the past two seasons.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that Cruz has agreed to a one-year, $13 million contract to remain with the Minnesota Twins.

Cruz, 40, has put together a .278/.347/.529 slash line with 417 home runs over his remarkable career. The most incredible thing is that he was as good as ever in 2019 and 2020.

In his first season with the Twins in 2019, Cruz had a .311/.392/.639 slash line with 41 home runs in 521 plate appearances. He was top-four in MLB in SLG, OPS, wOBA, and wRC+. He followed that up with a 2020 season in which he had a .303/.397/.595 slash line and 16 home runs (that was tied for seventh in the shortened season).

So, even at age 40 (and 41 in July), there’s no reason to think Cruz won’t still be one of the best hitters in baseball. And that makes an already-good Twins team quite a bit more dangerous.

Even before this addition, FanGraphs had the Twins projected for the most wins above replacement (WAR) of any team in the AL Central, but barely above the Chicago White Sox (Twins projected for 40.0 WAR, White Sox projected for 39.5). Add Cruz into the picture, and that’s another 2-4 wins on paper (the projections have him at 2.0 WAR, but he reached that same mark in just 53 games last season, and was at 4.3 WAR in 2018).

This is a substantial addition for the Twins that adds a big boost to their chances to win a third straight AL Central title. And putting the Twins impact aside, it will be fun watching Cruz crank dingers in meaningful games for at least one more season.

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

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