The Padres are among the many groups with curiosity Nelson Cruzstudies Jon Heyman of the New York Post (Twitter hyperlink). The designated hitter is likely one of the extra achieved bats nonetheless accessible in free company, though he is coming off a career-worst 2022 marketing campaign.
Cruz informed reporters within the Dominican Republic final week that his camp had already obtained presents from golf equipment for what will likely be his age-42 season. The seven-time All-Star unsurprisingly didn’t reveal which golf equipment had put forth these presents, and it isn’t clear whether or not San Diego is a kind of groups. Cruz additionally didn’t specify whether or not he is obtained main league presents or simply non-roster invites to huge league camp.
It was a tough season for Cruz, who spent a 12 months in Washington after inking a $15MM free agent deal. For the primary time since 2007, he hit at a below-average degree. Through 507 journeys to the plate, the right-hander posted a .234/.314/.337 line with solely 10 residence runs. It was his lowest homer complete in 14 years, thanks largely to a career-worst 52.4% grounder proportion. Cruz continued to hit the ball onerous, averaging just below 91 MPH in exit velocity whereas posting a forty five.7% onerous contact fee that was round 10 factors above the league common. Much of that contact was pushed into the dust, although, a suboptimal end result for a lumbering slugger.
Cruz had proven some worrisome indicators late within the 2021 season as nicely. Owner of a .294/.370/.537 line via the primary few months in Minnesota, he stumbled to a .226/.283/.442 mark upon touchdown with the Rays in a deadline deal that despatched Joe Ryan to the Twin Cities. Cruz had beforehand appeared ageless as he continued to mash into his 40’s, however he has only a .232/.304/.371 slash via 745 journeys to the plate since that commerce.
Health might’ve performed an element in that dip in manufacturing. At the top of the 12 months, Cruz revealed that he had been enjoying via some irritation in his left eye. The difficulty, which he mentioned had been impacting his imaginative and prescient, required surgical restore in late October. That’s not anticipated to have an effect on his readiness for Spring Training, though it presents a doable rationalization for Cruz’s struggles of late. Of course, the truth that he’ll flip 43 in July raises questions on whether or not he’ll be capable to bounce again.
That additionally figures to depress his asking value, as Cruz is unquestionably a paycut from final season. If he secures an enormous league deal, it’s going to be a one-year pact that probably comprises a reasonably low base wage. That might make him extra palatable to a San Diego membership that may be nearing its spending restrict. The Friars are sure to pay the posh tax for a 3rd consecutive season they usually’re roughly $6MM shy of the $273MM threshold that’d end result of their prime 2024 draft decide being pushed again ten spots, as estimated by Roster Resource.
Cruz is well-known to San Diego president of baseball operations AJ Preller. The Friars baseball operations chief was a member of the Rangers scouting workers earlier than touchdown in San Diego, a run that overlapped with Cruz breaking via as a daily in Arlington. They reportedly confirmed curiosity in Cruz final offseason earlier than he signed with the Nats.
The 18-year MLB veteran had ample expertise within the nook outfield early in his profession. He’s been nearly solely a DH for a half-decade, not logging a single inning of outfield motion since 2018. Any staff that brings him in would presumably accomplish that with an eye fixed in the direction of giving him ample run at designated hitter, along with some pinch -hitting work. The Friars signed Matt Carpenter to a two-year assure earlier within the offseason and determine to deploy him at DH pretty regularly as issues stand. Carpenter is able to factoring in on the non-shortstop infield positions and may add some insurance coverage to the nook outfield as nicely, which might open up DH time for Cruz if a deal had been to come back collectively.