After winning over 100 games during the regular season, but losing to the dreaded Yankees in the ALDS, here are five offseason moves the Minnesota Twins must make to get over the hump in 2020.
The Minnesota Twins had a terrific 2019 campaign, winning 101 games as they led the AL Central from start to finish outside of a one-day tie with the Cleveland Indians. But their playoff bugaboo remains, as they were dismissed by the New York Yankees via a three-game sweep in the ALDS. They’ve now lost 16 playoff games in a row, tying a record in the four major North American sports.
The “Bomba Squad” set a regular season record with 307 home runs, including five guys who hit more than 30 (Nelson Cruz — 41, Max Kepler — 36, Miguel Sano — 34, Eddie Rosario — 32, Mitch Garver — 31). But ultimately it was lackluster pitching and the relatively randomness of clutch hitting that did them in and led to a quick postseason exit.
The Twins made moves to extend pieces of their young core last offseason (Kepler and shortstop Jorge Polanco), but they have a lot of payroll flexibility heading into the offseason to go with a solid farm system. So 2019 should be the start of a promising stretch of years, which could pay off with the third World Series title in franchise history.
The Twins have decisions to make on some of their own, and they should be pretty active during the offseason.
Here are five most the Twins must make this offseason to get over the hump in 2020.
5. Tack a year onto Nelson Cruz’s deal
According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network on Wednesday, but not yet confirmed by the team, the Twins will pick up Cruz’s $12 million option for 2020. He led the team in home runs this year (41), with a 1.031 OPS (also team-leading) and 108 RBI (second on the team) during his age-39 campaign
Cruz’s age is the reason his initial deal with the Twins had that second-year option, and it’s a virtual certainty he won’t hit 40 home runs again next year as he turns 40 around midseason (July 1). But he has hit no less than 37 home runs every year since 2014, and even if you bake in a 20 percent drop-off next year that’s still 33 home runs and 87 RBI.
Cruz could very well play out his contract in 2020, then call it a career. But the Twins should consider giving him an extra year, as long as the price is reasonable, and valuing what he brings intangibly as much as what he can still do with a bat in his hands.