Last night, the league and union failed to come to an alternate agreement for the 2021 season, making the universal DH a heckuva lot less likely for 2021. As expected, and discussed earlier today, that clarified the market for the obvious DH free agents, like Nelson Cruz, who’s reportedly re-signed with the Minnesota Twins for one more year.
DH Nelson Cruz agrees to a one-year, $13 million deal to return to the Twins, per source. @JeffPassan first with the reunion.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) February 3, 2021
The 40-year-old slugger hit a whopping .303/.397/.595 (164 wRC+) with the Twins last season, which was almost directly in line with the monster numbers he put up a year prior (.311/.392/.639; 163 wRC+). And given those results, plus his ZiPS-projected 133 wRC+ for 2021, I actually expected him to get a bit more than $13M over one year, but this is the market for a 40-year-old DH when half of the league can’t realistically employ you (I don’t think anybody was rooting more for the universal DH than Cruz).
Indeed, that seems to be the general consensus:
Nelson Cruz will receive $13 million this season with the Twins, as @Feinsand said. While a reunion with Minnesota was long expected, the likely lack of a designated hitter in the National League this season hastened the agreement and brought Cruz back to where he is beloved.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 3, 2021
There’s not much of a market implication on this deal, as a return to Minnesota was always the most likely outcome, but I suppose this could affect the market facing borderline-DH/outfielder Marcell Ozuna, depending on how his suitors envision his role both for this season and beyond.
Generally speaking, though, this is a sign that teams are, indeed, expecting the season to begin in two weeks and for the universal designated hitter to be taking (at least) a year off.