Minnesota Twins complete pursuit of Nelson Cruz

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 22: Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners bats in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 22, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 22: Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners bats in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 22, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /
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On Thursday, the Minnesota Twins announced the signing of Nelson Cruz, ending a long pursuit of the veteran DH.

As the Minnesota Twins attempt to bounce back from a season filled with injuries to key players that led them to a 2017 Wild Card bid, they have added a significant piece to the middle of their lineup. Thursday, the Twins announced the signing of designated hitter Nelson Cruz.

According to various sources, Cruz will receive $14 million on a one-year deal that contains an option for 2020 for $12 million with a $300,000 buyout, making the total guarantees $14.3 million. The Twins have been linked to Cruz all offseason, so this ends what has been a long pursuit of the slugger.

Once a dynamic athlete, injuries have reduced Cruz to the role of designated hitter, where he has thrived for the last five seasons. During that time (one season with Baltimore, four with Seattle), Cruz has hit .281/.356/.541 while averaging 41 home runs per season.

Cruz has shown power in his brief exposure to his new home park. He’s slugged 10 home runs over 30 games, with a .325 batting average and 1.022 OPS.

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How this changes the Minnesota Twins lineup

Interestingly, this signing may have the biggest impact on a fellow slugging Dominican, as the Twins are hoping that Miguel Sano can handle third base, but are likely planning for plenty of DH time. The Twins will likely have a flexible bench due to the options of Willians Astudillo, Mitch Garver, and Ronald Torreyes. Astudillo and Garver will be able to move up and down while leaving the team with a backup catcher, which is excellent roster flexibility to have.

Sano now needs to keep himself in shape to handle third base full time as Cruz won’t be playing any outfield over Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler, or any of the players who will be vying for a backup outfield spot. The guy hurt most directly by this signing will be Tyler Austin, whose defense also won’t put him in the outfield, and he hits from the same side as offseason signing C.J. Cron, so he won’t be taking over at first base. Without any options, Austin could be a trade piece after hitting 9 home runs in 35 games with the Twins after being acquired from the Yankees last season.

With the primary outfield backups are predominantly left-handed, they all have options, and out-of-options right-handed Michael Reed is the other competition for an outfield spot. He brings the ability to play all three outfield positions defensively, and he’s coming off of a big season in the upper minors for Atlanta’s system, which could make Austin’s roster spot even more in question.

dark. Next. Twins eyeing veteran bat

Of course, all those points become moot in a hurry if the Minnesota Twins make a trade of one of their starting outfielders for a reliever or a starter. Regardless, the lineup in Minnesota got much better with the signing of Nelson Cruz today.