The San Diego Padres are not in that rarified air where any big name that has some power will likely be connected to the squad thanks to GM AJ Preller's aggressive nature. Even though the starting lineup is largely set in stone, the Padres may not be done making additions here.
While the Padres did well to add impact bats in the offseason, signing Xander Bogaerts in a stunning move, the loss of names like Josh Bell and Brandon Drury has created a need for a few more big boppers to populate the team's roster. One of those grizzled vets is still available for the taking.
During Preller's pre-Padres days as a member of the Texas Rangers, Nelson Cruz established himself as a legitimate power threat at the heart of the lineup before embarking on a nomadic career that has him on the doorstep of 500 home runs. Cruz is still an effective bat against left-handed pitching.
Jon Heyman is reporting that the Padres are interested in signing Cruz as a bench bat. Preller and Cruz could reunite in San Diego, and the latter could also resume his role of veteran mentor for Juan Soto. Even with many of the assorted pitfalls of a player this old, the Padres could be a nice home for him.
Padres rumors: San Diego interested in Nelson Cruz.
Cruz is just 41 home runs shy of joining the exclusive 500 home run club, and he still managed to mash a respectable .727 OPS against lefties despite turning 42 in the middle of the season for a moribund Nationals team. There could be a role for a veteran bat off the bench.
Just one year ago, Cruz was named an All-Star at age 41, hit 32 home runs, and was acquired by Tampa Bay as they tried to make a postseason run. While it might seem rich to expect a comeback season at his age, Cruz is still in tremendous shape if any team wants to take a chance on him.
Despite his positives, is it worth using a roster spot on him? Matt Carpenter is already a defense-deficient platoon bat that will come in against right-handers, so is it worth using another bench spot on Cruz when the team's outfield depth is already suspect when compared to the rest of the division?
Cruz is not going to play the field, steal bases, or hit for average. Even with those qualifications, what he brings to the locker room as a leader, coupled with his power, might be worth paying for.