Cruz, 30, spent the 2007-15 seasons in the Cardinals organization before playing the 2016 campaign in the Royals’ system. Though he totaled just five big league plate appearances with Kansas City, Cruz logged a solid .264/.347/.387 batting line in 92 Triple-A contests last season. Prior to that, he appeared in 259 games for the Cardinals from 2011-15 while serving as a backup to Yadier Molina, though he’s never provided much in the way of offense in the Majors. Across 638 big league plate appearances, Cruz is a .218/.260/.308 hitter, but it bears mention that he has a .732 OPS in the minors and a .724 OPS in parts of three Triple-A campaigns.
From a defensive standpoint, Cruz has halted 27 percent of stolen base attempts against him in the Majors, and his career 43 percent minor league mark in that regard is quite impressive. Though he once graded poorly in Baseball Prospectus’ pitch-framing metrics, he’s progressed to be a roughly average receiver, by that measure, in recent years.
Austin Hedges and Christian Bethancourt figure to be the primary backstops in San Diego this coming season, but with Bethancourt perhaps shifting into a hybrid catcher/outfielder/relief pitcher role, there could be some room to carry a third catcher on the roster, if Cruz proves worthy of a spot. Others that will be in the mix are Rule 5 pick Luis Torrens and non-roster invitees Hector Sanchez and Rocky Gale.