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Twins sign Nelson Cruz to 1-year contract

Minnesota makes a deal to bring aboard one of game’s best sluggers.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Twins and free agent slugger Nelson Cruz have agreed to a one-year, $14 million deal, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports and Enrique Rojas of ESPN.

As Passan and Rojas point out, Cruz can possibly earn a second year worth $12 million if the club decides to exercise its option on him. If the Twins decide to release him, there will only be a $300,000 buyout for his contract.

Cruz has been a slugging machine since becoming a regular in the big leagues in 2009, hitting 338 of his 360 career home runs during that span. Over the last five seasons with the Mariners, the 38-year-old right-handed hitter has hit 37 or more home runs and has had 93 or more RBI, with his highest totals being a 44-homer campaign in 2015 and a 119-RBI season in 2017 when he led the AL in that category.

Last season, Cruz finished eighth in the AL with 37 home runs and ninth with 97 RBI, despite missing some games after falling down the dugout steps and injuring his ankle on the opening weekend.

Cruz joins a Twins team looking to get back into playoff contention. In 2017, the Twins the made their first postseason appearance since 2010 after earning the second AL wild card spot. The Twins lost to the Yankees, 8-4, in the wild card game that year, but finished the season with an 85-77 record — a remarkable 28-win turnaround from 2016, considering they went 59-103. However, things went in the wrong direction for the Twins during their 78-84 season, basically losing all of the momentum they had from 2017 while getting disappointing seasons out of young core players such as Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. This led to manager Paul Molitor being fired at season’s end as well.

Minnesota is hoping that Cruz’s veteran presence and bat could help add stability and challenge the three-time defending AL Central champion Indians for the division title.