Unless you have been living under a rock recently, you know that the Twins signed Nelson Cruz to a one year, $14 million deal. Most analysts have seen this as a big acquisition for the Twins. However, as with any piece of baseball news these days, people have differing views on this deal.
Here are a bunch of different takes on the Nelson Cruz signing, organized by levels of hotness.
COLD (PRETTY REASONABLE)
The decision to sign the 38-year-old goes well beyond what he will bring in the batter’s box. That’s because Cruz’s presence in the clubhouse figures to give the Twins something they lacked in a big way during a disappointing 2018 season. That would be a veteran player who doesn’t have to declare himself a leader and rather can assume that role simply with his presence. This is important for the entire team, but it’s obvious that Cruz’s number one job will be serving as a role model and mentor for third baseman Miguel Sano.
This take makes sense! Nelson Cruz is a big name player who has been around the game for 14 years and is known for his strong work ethic, so he will be a good clubhouse leader. Miguel Sano, a much younger player who is also from the Dominican Republic, could be mentored by Nelson Cruz, and that may help him become a better player.
That’ll play well for a Twins team that needs that jolt of power and an upgrade at DH, having given most of those at-bats to the weak trio of the retired Mauer, the departed Logan Morrison (a 73 OPS+ in his lone season as a Twin), and the unexceptional Robbie Grossman (five homers in 465 plate appearances). Cruz makes for a nice pairing too with C.J. Cron, who bopped 30 homers for the Rays in 2018 but was waived in November and snatched up by Minnesota. With those two in the fold and better seasons from Sano and Buxton, a Twins lineup that didn’t scare anyone should be a far tougher task for opposing pitchers in 2019.
This take also makes sense! Aside from being a clubhouse leader and mentor, Nelson Cruz will help the Twins lineup. He’s very much a power hitter, and the Twins need power hitters, after a season where there wasn’t a lot of production by the offense. As Tayler says, the Twins also added C.J. Cron, and it’s clear they are making moves to improve the offense next season. Now all they need is more pitching!
WARM (LESS REASONABLE)
There was a teensy opening for acquiring a new DH once Joe Mauer retired, because Sanó can play first, in theory, where he wouldn’t be as harmful as he would be at third base. But filling first base was already a prong of this Twins’ offseason fork, with C.J. Cron and his dingers coming over from the Rays. Now that Cruz has signed, there are two choices: Play Sanó less, or play him at third. They’re almost certainly choosing the latter.
This take.... does not make as much sense. The Twins were always going to play Miguel Sano at third. I don’t understand why people think Miguel Sano isn’t a good option at third. He’s got a good arm and has made some great plays. Sure, last year his performance may have dipped a bit because of the surgery he had to insert a titanium rod in his leg and losing training time in the offseason. He’s also a power hitter and might be better at DH, but he can hold his own in the field. Grant’s take is like the polar opposite of the quote from Zulgad above. Rather than helping Sano, Brisbee thinks Nelson Cruz’s presence will hurt him. We shall see.
Here’s a random tweet:
Sure, Nelson Cruz is definitely on the older side. However, he hit 37 home runs last season, when he was 38 years old. Unless aging from 38 to 39 automatically makes you bad at baseball, I think his age isn’t much of a problem. Of course, we’ll find out.
HOT (NEVER TWEET)
Oh boy, we’re really getting into it now:
Twins sign Nelson Cruz! Twins sign Nelson Cruz! THE AGING SLUGGER WHO CAN STILL MASH IS THE ULTIMATE MARKET INEFFICIENCY because you only need to DESIGNATE him to HIT in the American League and advanced metrics penalize the DH position because of defense for some reason!— Nato Coles (@NatoColes) December 27, 2018
Rather than argue that this is a bad fit for the Twins, this person chooses to argue that the designated hitter is bad for baseball and therefore no one should care about the Twins signing a big bat. Interesting strategy.
I don’t hate the Nelson Cruz move at all but imagine having your highest paid player a 40yr old dude who doesn’t play a defensive position. I’ll forever stand by, if Mauer wasn’t from MN the club would of let him walk. They just won’t spend it.— Chubbs Peterson (@DominikNamken) December 27, 2018
This guy sees the Cruz deal as an opportunity to discuss how much he hates Joe Mauer.
Speaking of which....
I’d take Nelson Cruz at $15 million over Joe Mauer at $23 million.#JustSaying— Russell Armstrong (@MrAWHS) December 27, 2018
Looking forward to the midseason Nelson Cruz waiver/trade watch when the Twins are several games below .500 at that point. It'll be a good draw for the fans early and I bet they'll nab a few decent prospects out of whatever deal they make.— Sammy Bissett (@SammyBissett) December 27, 2018
I can think of a few more reasons why the Twins got Nelson Cruz other than to sell tickets. Also, the Twins may indeed be several games below .500 by the deadline, but it’s hardly a guarantee. Again, we’ll find out, and all of this is just speculation at this point.
The following is a conversation that almost certainly never happened:
TWINS FRONT OFFICE: We’ll pay you $14 million if you strike out against the Indians every at bat.
NELSON CRUZ: Okay, sounds good to me!
I don’t think I can take reading through any more of these, so I’m going to end it right here.