Nelson Cruz Returns For 19th Season

As the second-leading active home run leader in baseball, 42-year-old Nelson Cruz has signed on for his 19th major league season. He's agreed to a one-year deal with the San Diego Padres. 

The deal will pay Cruz $1M, after signing for $12M + $3M buyout last season. 

Padres president of baseball operations AJ Preller was the Director of Scouting and Assistant GM for the Texas Rangers during Cruz's eight seasons there. 

The veteran DH will stay in the National League for the second straight year, after spending 16 consecutive seasons in the American League. He spent 2022 with the Washington Nationals, where he posted a .234 with 10 home runs and 64 RBI, with an OPS of .651 — the lowest of his career since his first full season in 2006.

But he recently underwent successful eye surgery to address inflammation, and that issue may have been partly to blame for his big dropoff in '22.

Of note, the Padres recently signed left-handed hitting Matt Carpenter, and while he'll likely play some first, second and outfield, it's possible they could be looking at platooning the RH-hitting Cruz with him at DH on occasion.  

During his 18-year career, Cruz bats 30 points higher against lefties, with an OPS 100 points higher. This sort of arrangement would allow both Cruz and Carpenter to stay fresh. After all, the two of them combined have been on this earth for 79 years. 

Photo: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports