The Minnesota Twins began 2020 by adding a former MVP and a future Cy Young finalist to their team, optimistic about improving upon a roster that produced 101 wins the year before. And then came a season unlike any before it, followed by an offseason filled with question marks.
A lot has happened in 12 months. Here’s a look at the Twins’ year in review:
January: The Twins opened 2020 by signaling their intentions to go all-in. The Twins agreed to a three-year extension with Miguel Sano and then days later, on Jan. 22, they officially signed third baseman Josh Donaldson to the largest free-agent contract in team history.
Donaldson signed a four-year, $92 million guaranteed deal, but the first season of his new contract didn’t play out quite as hoped. He was sidelined for a month with a calf strain, an issue which cropped back up near the end of the regular season, forcing him to miss the playoffs.
February: After a three-team trade with the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers was scuttled, the Twins and Dodgers reworked the trade with the Twins sending top pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol to Los Angeles and receiving Kenta Maeda in return.
Maeda’s first season in the Twin Cities could not have gone much better as the 32-year-old finished second in Cy Young voting after posting a 2.70 earned-run average in 11 starts to go along with a 0.750 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched), tops in the majors.
Days later, manager Rocco Baldelli addressed his group for the first time in Fort Myers, Fla., setting high expectations for the season.
March: As the novel coronavirus spread across the country, Major League Baseball came to an abrupt pause. On March 12, the league decided to delay Opening Day by two weeks. Nearly everyone packed up and left Florida to head home into a pause that quickly went from two weeks to indefinite.
Opening Day, scheduled for March 26, came and went with no baseball.
April: The Twins’ Target Field opener scheduled for April 2 also came and went with no baseball. Instead of playing at home, the Twins urged fans to stay at home.
A plan to start the MLB season in a bubble in Arizona circulated as a potential option, though that was quickly ruled out. Players continued working out at their homes to keep in shape despite not knowing when their return date might be.
May: Players continued working out at home while MLB and the MLB Players Association remained in talks about length of season, salaries, COVID-19 protocols and more.
June: After the late-May killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, the Pohlad family, the owners of the Twins, announced a $25 million pledge toward racial justice in the Twin Cities. On Juneteenth, the Twins removed the statue of former owner Calvin Griffith from outside Target Field citing racist comments he had made.
The Twins selected power-hitting first baseman Aaron Sabato from UNC with the 27th pick in the MLB Draft, which was shortened from 40 rounds to five in 2020.
Designated hitter Nelson Cruz was honored with the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award, primarily for his work benefiting his community of Las Matas de Santa Cruz in the Dominican Republic.
After failing to come to an agreement with the MLBPA, Commissioner Rob Manfred unilaterally set a 60-game schedule for a season beginning in July.
July: A three-week summer camp began with the Twins training with a group of 60 players at Target Field. Sano and Willians Astudillo were among those to get a late start after testing positive for COVID-19 upon their arrival in Minneapolis.
On July 24, Max Kepler lifted the first pitch of the Twins’ 2020 season into the right-field stands as part of a two-homer game against the White Sox in Chicago. On July 28, the Twins played their home opener at a fan-less Target Field.
August: The Twins spent the season engaging in a three-team battle for AL Central supremacy with Chicago and Cleveland, falling to third place by the end of August.
Maeda fell three outs short of throwing a no-hitter against the Brewers on Aug. 18. During the game, he set a club record by striking out eight consecutive batters.
At the end of the month, the Twins and Tigers joined other teams across professional sports by voting to postpone their game on Aug. 27 to protest racial injustice.
September: Early in the month, longtime analyst Bert Blyleven called his last game in the broadcast booth. On the final day of the regular season, the Twins clinched their second straight American League Central title. And much to fans’ delight, they managed to miss the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs.
But the Twins suffered the same fate as the year before, getting swept out of the Wild Card Series by the Houston Astros as their bats fell silent. In two games, the 40-year-old Cruz was responsible for driving in both of the team’s runs. The quick playoff exit once again left the Twins looking for answers as their playoff losing streak stretched to 18 games dating back to 2004.
October: By October, the Twins were back home watching while other teams competed for a title. Graterol, who the Twins shipped away in February, and the Dodgers beat the Rays in six games to win the World Series.
For the second straight offseason, shortstop Jorge Polanco underwent surgery on his right ankle. Cruz was honored as the Marvin Miller Man of the Year. The Twins declined their 2021 option on reliever Sergio Romo.
November: Cruz began the month by winning another award, taking home his fourth Silver Slugger Award. Cruz finished sixth in MVP voting and Maeda second in Cy Young balloting.
For the first — and likely only — time, former Twins Torii Hunter, LaTroy Hawkins and Michael Cuddyer appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot.
December: The Twins non-tendered Eddie Rosario, moving on from the popular outfielder. The Twins’ first major-league signing of the offseason came late in the month when they picked up reliever Hansel Robles on a one-year deal.
As part of the wide-scale reorganization of the minor leagues, the Twins and St. Paul Saints made the decision to affiliate. The move gives the Twins the shortest distance to their Triple-A club of all 30 teams, something which they believe will be a competitive advantage moving forward.