Padres sign Nelson Cruz to a one-year deal

  • Nelson Cruz
  • Nelson Cruz
  • Nelson Cruz

The “Boomstick” Nelson Cruz has played for quite a few teams over his 18-year career. However, the one thing that has eluded him is a World Series ring. On Wednesday, the seven-time all-star signed a one-year, $1 MM deal with the San Diego Padres. With the physical pending, the Padres may become the eighth team.

Cruz has held father time at bay for the majority of his career. As a late bloomer, he didn’t quite find success until he was in late-20’s. He quickly made up for the lost time though as he had a total of 292 home runs between the ages of 33 and 40. At the age of 41, Cruz regressed in 2022. He turned 42 midseason and though he had dealt with several injuries in 2022, Cruz only hit .234/.313/.337 with just 16 doubles and 10 home runs. Not a typical Cruz season. It was a particularly tough second half for Cruz, who batted a mere .208/.290/.274 with three homers over his final 64 games as Washington sputtered to a last-place finish in the NL East. Has father time finally caught up to the four-time silver slugger?

Cruz’s track record still makes him an intriguing bat. Even if he can only DH nowadays (his last action in the field was in 2018). From 2019-21, he posted a .936 OPS, while his 89 homers tied for third in the Majors.

Padres general manager A.J. Preller knows Cruz from their time together with the Rangers. At the very least, Preller is counting on a veteran DH platoon to improve production at the position. The Padres’ revolving door at DH was midpack among MLB teams, slashing .238/.324/.394 with 21 home runs. Though if Cruz makes the adjustments to bounce back it will provide Bob Melvin the flexibility of using Matt Carpenter in the field (most likely at first base) on days that he’d like both veterans in the lineup.

Cruz is poised to surpass Rickey Henderson as the oldest non-pitcher in Padres’ history. Henderson was 42 years, 286 days old on Oct. 7, 2001, when he collected career hit No. 3,000 in Tony Gwynn’s final MLB game. Should Nelson Cruz play on opening day he will match Henderson.

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