Dominican designated hitter Nelson Cruz has reached a deal with the San Diego Padres for one season, returning to MLB for his 19th season.
Cruz finished the 2022 regular season with a .234/.313/.337 offensive line with 10 home runs and 64 RBIs. After not staying with the Washington Nationals, he received $3 million in compensation for being released.
Cruz is the manager of the Dominican Republic team in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, but he never wanted to hang up the spikes, announcing his retirement from the majors.
“I had a very slow start, with an upturn in the second month… but I was suffering from a vision problem, in the eye, which kept me out for the last three weeks of the season,” Cruz said on the Dominican radio program Sports Diamond.
Cruz underwent surgery to correct his left eye problem, which greatly affected his 2022 season. However, he is now ready to add in San Diego.
Cruz will soon be 43, but that isn’t a problem for the Padres. And why would he? The veteran hitter played for the Washington Nationals in 2022, appearing in 124 games and posting a .234 average with a .651 OPS.
In 2021, during which he split time between the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays, at 40, he hit 32 home runs and posted 86 RBIs and a .832 OPS. Overall, in his 18-year professional career, he has hit 459 home runs, 1,302 RBIs, and a .274 batting average.
Of course, it remains to be seen if the Padres can pull it off. As MLB Network’s Jon Heyman noted, San Diego is just one of multiple teams that have shown interest in his services.
However, the Padres have one advantage: They have a connection to Cruz. For those who don’t know, general manager AJ Preller was with Cruz before during his time with the Texas Rangers.
A native of Las Matas de Santa Cruz, Dominican Republic, Cruz’s 459 career home runs are 39th all-time, and only Miguel Cabrera (507) has more among active players.
A seven-time All-Star, Cruz has also dressed for the Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Minnesota Twins, and Tampa Bay Rays.
In his 18-year major league career, Cruz has been named an All-Star seven times. He has played for the Milwaukee Brewers, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Twins, Rays, and Nationals. He’s finished in the top 15 in AL MVP, voting six different times.
He is a four-time American League Silver Slugger and was named American League Championship Series MVP as a member of the Rangers. With the Rangers, Cruz won back-to-back American League pennants in 2010 and 2011.