‘Kim Ha-Sung’s former teammate’ 43-year-old drug home run king retires? SD release→FA market…no team found eventually

It didn’t last long, but Nelson Cruz, the ‘464 home run’ slugger who was in the mix with Ha Sung Kim (San Diego Padres) this year, has left the team. No team was interested in him after he was designated for assignment (DFA).

메이저놀이터On the 12th, Major League Trade Rumours (MLBTR) reported that Nelson Cruz, who became a DFA from San Diego on the 5th, will eventually leave the team as a free agent (FA).

Cruz is a familiar figure to Korean fans, as he has eaten a pot of rice with Kim Ha-seong. The veteran and “Living Legend” made his debut with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2005 and went on to play for the Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Minnesota Twins, Tampa Bay Rays, Washington Nationals, and San Diego.

Cruz signed a one-year, $1 million deal with San Diego via StubHub after playing a full season with Washington last year, entering his 19th season in the majors. He appeared in 49 games for San Diego this year, batting .245 with five home runs, 23 RBIs, nine runs scored and a .681 OPS, before being placed on the disabled list.

While there have been reports of banned substance use, it’s certainly a disappointment compared to a colourful career that included a 40-homer season with Baltimore in 2014 that saw him win the American League ‘Home Run King’ title. Cruz’s performance this season hasn’t been bad considering his $1 million salary, but San Diego decided that he wasn’t being utilised enough and opted to part ways with him to give younger players a chance.
Players who are DFA’d have a week to make themselves available to other clubs if they are interested in signing them. If no suitors come forward, they can either be released through waivers and become a free agent or remain in the affiliated minor leagues, which is what happened to Cruz after a week of no suitors.

In 1450 plate appearances in 2021 between Minnesota and Tampa Bay, Cruz hit .265 with 136 doubles, 32 home runs, 86 RBIs, 79 runs scored and an OPS of .832. However, due to aging and an eye injury last year, his performance began to decline, and this year has followed a similar trend.

As MLBTR notes, “The 43-year-old Cruz has long been one of the game’s best hitters, but his production has declined over the past two years. The last time he played the outfield was in 2018, and even then it was only for four games. With his defensive limitations, Cruz needs to hit well to keep his spot, and he hasn’t been able to do that lately.”

For now, Cruz’s biggest advantage is that his price tag is not high. This means he’s likely to find a team again. “A $1 million salary would make him available to 29 different teams,” MLBTR said, adding, “Even though he’s struggling in the middle of the 2021 season, some teams will take a chance on his career because it’s not a huge financial commitment.”

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