After a revolving door last season, San Diego has moved to shore up depth at the DH slot for this season. Former National Nelson Cruz will re-join AJ Preller in San Diego, as the designated hitter has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Padres. Cruz will look to add some pop to a Padres lineup that already has a fair amount, as well as rebound from a frustrating 2022 campaign.
A Look at Cruz
Last season was not particularly kind to DH Nelson Cruz. The ex-National hit just .234/.313/.337 last season in Washington. The 42-year-old’s .337 SLG marked his worst since 2006, a season in which Cruz played just 98 games for the Rangers.
The seven-time All-Star recorded good batted ball metrics, a good sign for 2023. But, decreases in launch angle and Barrell%, as well as a lopsided GB% (53.0%) indicate that Cruz got on top of the ball more than he would have liked. One positive note from last season was that Cruz did record an above-average 9.7% BB%.
Since the start of 2017, Cruz has played just 10 games in the field. The 42-year-old won’t be manning the outfield in San Diego, but the right-handed slugger will look to contribute to a team that would like some added production from the DH slot. The likes of Luke Voit & Josh Bell delivered mixed results last season, so it will be interesting to see how much the Padres can get from the veteran power-hitter.
What it Means
Aside from the acquisition of star shortstop Xander Bogaerts, San Diego has added a number of veteran bats in recent weeks. Utilityman Matt Carpenter joins the Padres after a strong stint with the Yankees, as did former White Sox OF Adam Engel. Now, the Padres ink a power-hitting DH option in Nelson Cruz.
Despite a career-worst .234 batting average and just 10 home runs, Cruz still recorded above-average Hard Hit% and average exit velocity rates, as well as a solid BB% rate. A double-digit increase in GB% rate, though, does offer a bit of concern for a hitter who had trouble squaring up baseballs last season. Still, Cruz’s strength and past production, coupled with solid discipline does offer some solace for a team that will look for better improvement from the DH spot this season. Plus on a one-year deal, it’s very low risk for the Padres