Twins general manager says Nelson Cruz’s stay could extend beyond 2020 season

MINNEAPOLIS — Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz will turn 40 years old on July 1 and with him entering the final season of his contract this could be his final year in the big leagues. The Twins, however, are interested in keeping Cruz beyond 2020.

General manager Thad Levine said Saturday at a fan question-and-answer session at TwinsFest at Target Field that the team is “having ongoing conversations with (Cruz’s) agent to discuss mutual interest in the future.”

Cruz joined the Twins as a free agent last offseason, signing a one-year, $14 million deal that included a $12 million club option for 2020. Cruz hit .311/.392/.639 with 41 home runs and 108 RBIs in 120 games as he helped lead the Twins to their first AL Central title since 2010. He put up up those numbers despite missing time because of a wrist injury.

It came as no surprise the Twins quickly elected to exercise the option on Cruz’s contract.

“He’s one of those unique players right now who seems to be giving Father Time the business,” Levine said. “Most of us aren’t blessed with that ability. Everything we’ve heard from him is he loves it here, everything he’s heard from us is we love having him here.”

Cruz didn’t only contribute on the field. He also brought leadership to the clubhouse and was an important influence on Miguel Sano. The Twins likely want to keep Cruz’s leadership around as long as possible.

“We brought Nelson Cruz in here last year in the hope that he could really propel the franchise forward both on the field and maybe more impactfully in the clubhouse,” Levine said. “I think he did more than we could have ever dreamed. His finger prints were all over that team last year. A lot of people deserve a lot of credit. Nelson Cruz deserves quite a bit of credit for what he did. The performance when he was in the batter’s box was nothing shy of spectacular. But what he did behind the scenes, I wish everyone could really have seen (it) because it was equally significant.”