Derek Falvey admitted a couple of years ago, after some so-so free-agent pickups just before, or during, spring training, that he's not actually a fan of the patient approach to the open market, that he would prefer a sped-up process that gives rosters more clarity without a winter of what-ifs.
Strange, considering how good he's getting at waiting.
After nearly three months with a roster seemingly frozen by the Minnesota frost, Falvey and the Twins sprung into action as January came to a close, and in just 12 days revamped their defense, buttressed the pitching staff, and performed an encore of the most successful free agent signing in team history.
Patience seems to pay off, again.
"You always want to be flexible, so you're able to react to opportunity," Falvey, the Twins' president of baseball operations, said during training camp in 2019. "That being said, starting the cycle of another season with some certainty, we've learned, has its benefits."
But the Twins seemed to have benefited greatly by waiting for the salary requirements — or this winter, for the number of guaranteed seasons — to fall as free agents react to a market damaged by the ongoing pandemic. The Twins filled out their rotation by adding lefthander J.A. Happ, made defense a priority by signing shortstop Andrelton Simmons, filled the hole in the center of their offense by welcoming Nelson Cruz back, and on Wednesday, completed their late-inning bullpen corps with Alex Colome.
Most notable: The first three players signed contracts that expire next November, and Colome's will, too, unless both team and player trigger its second-year option.
For an investment of roughly $40 million, and a commitment of zero beyond this season, the Twins addressed every weakness they had targeted for the offseason.
The most impactful signing of all figures to be Cruz, whose own long wait for more suitors proved fruitless when MLB and the players union was unable to reach an agreement on extending the designated hitter rule to the National League.
"Nelson Cruz lived up to every expectation, every assignment we could place on him," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said after Cruz's second straight Silver Slugger season in the middle of the Twins' lineup. By batting .303 with 16 home runs in 53 games last year, Cruz in only two seasons carved out a likely new designation: most successful designated hitter in Twins history.
The 40-year-old Dominican's 57 home runs at the position, in just 173 games as a Twin, already is the career-high mark in Minnesota, by a long way; David Ortiz and Jason Kubel had 42 apiece. Cruz's two-year OPS (on-base-plus-slugging) of 1.019 easily beats Jim Thome's previous record, among Twins with at least 100 games at DH, of .956. No Twins DH has delivered a higher on-base percentage (.392) or slugging percentage (.627), and his batting average of .309 is one point behind Paul Molitor's .310.
Cruz's two seasons so far have turned a position that for most of the 2010s was a Twins weakness — their designated hitters combined for 15 homers in 2018, the year before he arrived, which ranked 14th in the AL — into a strength.