Nelson Cruz deciding between San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers
At the 2021 trade deadline, the Padres were in heavy pursuit of veteran ace Max Scherzer, but he ended up going to the Dodgers, instead.
Now, according to several reports, Nelson Cruz is going to sign with one of the two NL West teams, which will be disastrous for whichever team loses out on him, as their pitchers will then have to face the formidable slugger.
For Padres fans, this brings back unfond memories of the Scherzer situation, which was compounded by the false reports by typically-reputable sources that he was coming to San Diego. Instead, the three-time Cy Young pitcher donned Dodger blue, and continued striking out Padres; 38 of them in 31 2/3 innings last year, to be precise.
The two situations are eerily similar: two NL West teams, two superstars in their 40s, devastating for the losing team in the race.
During the lockout, I proposed that Cruz would be an excellent DH option for the Padres. His offensive contributions would offset Eric Hosmer’s lack thereof.
Since his first full season in 2009, Cruz has a .279/.349/.535 line, .884 OPS, and 1,773 hits over 1,706 games. He’s averaged 31 doubles and 41 home runs per 162 games.
In 2021, between the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays, Cruz hit 32 home runs across 140 games. On the Padres’ roster last season, only Fernando Tatis Jr. hit more.
Losing out on Cruz would be particularly devastating, as he’s raked against the Padres in his career. The 16-year American League vet has only faced San Diego pitchers in 16 games, but he’s hit .312/.391/.607 with a .998 OPS, five home runs, three double, 14 RBI, and 15 runs scored against them.
It’s worth noting that Cruz’s career numbers against the rest of the NL West are not as good as they are against the Padres, but the sample sizes are clearly small enough that A.J. Preller is ready to ignore them in his pursuit.