MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins are bringing back designated hitter Nelson Cruz and bolstering their bullpen with right-hander Alex Colomé, making two more major moves as spring training fast approaches.
Cruz’s one-year deal is worth $13 million, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations. The contract for Colomé will cover at least one year and $6.25 million, with $5 million for 2021 and an option for 2022 at $5.5 million that can be declined by the Twins for a $1.25 million buyout, according to a second person with knowledge of those negotiations.
Both people spoke Wednesday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because each deal was pending a physical.
Cruz turned 40 last season and batted .303 with 16 homers, 33 RBIs and a .992 OPS in 53 games during the pandemic-shortened schedule. Colomé, who had 12 saves and an 0.81 ERA in 21 games for the division rival Chicago White Sox in 2020, likely will step in as the primary closer.
Cruz 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, and the Twins won the AL Central both seasons.
Just as valuable to the club has been Cruz’s leadership, with his laid-back demeanor, 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 in 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.
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 recently added shortstop Andrelton Simmons in free agency, which will shift Jorge Polanco to second base and make Luis Arraez the primary backup position player.
The Twins signed reliever Hansel Robles and starting pitcher J.A. Happ — on one-year commitments, as with Simmons, Colomé and Cruz — earlier this winter.
Colomé broke in with Tampa Bay in 2013, made the All-Star team in 2016 and spent six seasons there while current Twins manager Rocco Baldelli was on staff with the Rays.
The 32-year-old had 47 saves in 2017, was traded to the Seattle Mariners in 2018 and dealt again to the White Sox after that season. The Twins let Sergio Romo, Trevor May and Tyler Clippard become free agents from last year’s relief corps, leaving Taylor Rogers and Tyler Duffey as the top late-inning options along with Colomé.
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