Cruz designated as Padres opt for more versatile bench

July 4th, 2023

SAN DIEGO -- 's Padres tenure came to an unceremonious end on Tuesday morning. It’s unclear whether his remarkable 19-year big league career could be reaching the same conclusion.

That remains to be seen after Cruz was designated for assignment by the Padres amid a flurry of roster moves Tuesday. The Padres also placed right-hander on the 15-day IL with shoulder inflammation, and they promoted utility man to take Cruz’s place on the bench.

Cruz had posted a .245/.283/.399 slash line in 49 games this season, serving as a DH and pinch-hitter, almost exclusively against left-handed pitching. Manager Bob Melvin cited the team’s need for further versatility as the reason behind the move.

“Obviously a tough one,” Melvin said. “He’s a big impact in the clubhouse. Across the board, throughout the league, the respect that he brings, playing against him from afar, it’s fantastic. He comes as advertised -- leadership, all of the above.

“I think it’s more about versatility here now. We have a couple guys in he and [Matt Carpenter] that basically just DH. We needed to be able to give some guys some days off a little bit more, need a runner off the bench, need to have a little bit more versatility. So unfortunately we had to make this move today.”

Across his 19 big league seasons, Cruz has accumulated 464 career homers, an .856 OPS and 42.3 bWAR. He’s a seven-time All-Star, a four-time Silver Slugger and the MVP of the 2011 ALCS with Texas.

Melvin noted his belief that Cruz would “catch on somewhere else.” Cruz was not at the ballpark Tuesday, and it was not immediately clear whether he’ll pursue such an opportunity. His skill set remains at least somewhat useful -- a right-handed bench bat with a penchant for hitting lefties and occasionally leaving the ballpark. (He’d gone deep five times in 143 at-bats this season.)

San Diego signed Cruz to a one-year deal during the offseason, planning to platoon him with Carpenter at DH. But the Padres simply weren’t getting enough production out of that duo to justify two position-less roster spots, leading to Tuesday’s move.

As for Wacha, the Padres are hoping to use the All-Star break to allow his shoulder further time to heal. He missed a start last month with the same issue. It’s possible he will return to the rotation in the first turn after the break, Melvin said.

The Padres also optioned righty Domingo Tapia and recalled lefty José Castillo and righty knuckleballer Matt Waldron.