Despite not really establishing himself in MLB until his age-28 season, Nelson Cruz has been able to have a remarkable career.
The new San Diego Padres star has 459 career home runs, an ALCS MVP award in 2011, a home run crown in 2014, seven All-Star berths, and four Silver Slugger awards.
Why did he end up signing with the Padres?
Well, because he doesn’t have a World Series ring and believes he can win one in San Diego.
He came awfully close in 2010 and 2011, in consecutive World Series appearances with the Texas Rangers that ended up in defeat.
However, he also prioritized San Diego for personal reasons.
Or, shall we say, “personnel” reasons.
He has a lot of friends there, and believes the atmosphere will be perfect for him.
Nelson Cruz says that his relationships with AJ Preller, Juan Soto, Manny Machado, and Fernando Tatis Jr. played a role in him deciding to sign with the Padres.
— 97.3 The Fan (@973TheFanSD) January 24, 2023
Preller, currently the Padres’ general manager, was director of scouting and assistant GM in Texas from 2004 to 2014.
He shared a team with Cruz for years.
Cruz played with Soto in Washington last year and with Machado in Baltimore in 2014.
He will be surrounded by fellow countrymen and friends as he enters his age-43 season.
He is looking for that elusive title, and if he can regain his 2021 form, he can help the Padres get there.
That year, he had a .832 OPS.
Last year’s .651 mark was somewhat disappointing, but it could be part of his natural decline associated with age.
Still, his clubhouse presence, leadership, and experience will buy him some time in San Diego.