The accolades keep rolling in for Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz.
Cruz on Thursday was named the Marvin Miller Man of the Year by the Major League Baseball Players Association. The award is voted on by MLB players and goes to the peer whom they “most respect based on his leadership on the field and in the community.” Balloting took place in mid-September.
In addition to being a productive player at age 40, Cruz has done exemplary humanitarian work in his native Dominican Republic. His Boomstick23 foundation provides aid and opportunities to people in his country. He also has helped build a police station while donating a fire truck and ambulance to his hometown of Los Matas De Santa Cruz. He also makes appearances and has charitable endeavors in the United States.
The award is named after the first MLBPA executive director, who served from 1966 through 1982. Other recent winners include Curtis Granderson, Anthony Rizzo, Adam Jones and Clayton Kershaw.
Since the end of the 2019 season, Cruz also has won the Carl R. Pohlad Award for community service; been named the Star Tribune’s Sportsperson of the Year; and received the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award at the ESPYs. He beat out Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright and Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward for the Marvin Miller Award.
On the field, Cruz batted .303 this season with 16 home runs and 33 RBI with a .992 on base-plus-slugging percentage. He was slowed some by a sore knee late in the season but still managed to play in 53 of 60 games. He doubled twice in six at-bats during the Twins’ wild-card series loss to Houston.
Cruz completed his second season with the Twins. The club picked up his $12 million option for 2020, which ended up being $4.44 million because of the abbreviated season causing contracts to be pro-rated. He will become a free agent five days following the Word Series, but he has expressed an interest in returning and the Twins want him back.
“Obviously, we have to get with the agent and work through everything in terms of what happens next,” said Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey on Oct. 1. “We’ve been in contact with him for sure. But the feeling is mutual. We don’t feel any differently than Nellie does. We see a fit for him here, and we’re hopeful that can work out.”
Cruz is believed to be seeking a two-year deal, and could wait to see if there will be a universal DH in 2021, which would expand the list of potential suitors considerably. The DH was approved for both leagues for just the 2020 season and, as of now, will remain in the American League only for 2021. It would have to be collectively bargained for it to be used in both leagues.
Maeda, Buxton are Gold Glove finalists
Righthander Kenta Maeda and outfielder Byron Buxton were named finalists for Gold Glove Awards. Maeda is a finalist along with Griffin Canning of the Angels and Zach Plesac of Cleveland. Buxton’s competition is Ramon Laureano of the Athletics and Luis Robert of the White Sox. The winners will be announced on Nov. 3.