In a somewhat unusual move, the Padres have selected the contract of outfielder Preston Tucker before promptly placing him on the 10-day IL with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. To make room for Tucker on the 40-man roster, right-hander Angel Felipe was designated for assignment. MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell shed some light on the club’s decision, noting that Tucker had an impending opt-out opportunity in the minor league deal he signed with the Padres back in December.
The 32-year-old Tucker last played in the major leagues in 2018. A seventh round pick by the Astros in the 2012 draft, Tucker made a solid impression with Houston during his 2015 rookie season, slashing .243/.297/.434 with 13 homers and 19 doubles in just 323 trips to the plate. Altogether, Tucker’s debut performance was good for a 104 wRC+ that clocked in just above league average. Unfortunately, things would take a turn for the worse the following season, as Tucker struggled to a .164/.222/.328 slash line in 144 plate appearances. That lead the Astros to option Tucker to the minors for their entire 2017 championship campaign before designating the outfielder for assignment in December.
That led the Braves to take a chance on Tucker, acquiring him from the Astros in a minor trade a few days later. Atlanta surely did not regret their decision, as Tucker hit a respectable .256/.307/.444 in 62 games for the Braves in 2018. His time in Atlanta was interrupted at the trade deadline that year, when he was traded for the second time in eight months as part of the package that brought Adam Duvall to the Braves from Cincinnati. Tucker’s time in Cincinnati was brief, as he appeared in just 17 games with the club before the Reds traded him back to Atlanta in exchange for cash considerations. Tucker scuffled badly in his final 18 games of the season, however, hitting just .083 without an extra base hit upon his return to Atlanta. Those struggles prompted the Braves to outright Tucker off the roster, leaving him to elect free agency after the 2018 season.
Since then, Tucker spent three seasons with the Kia Tigers in the KBO, slashing .284/.372/.466 during his time in Korea before departing the club after the 2021 campaign. Tucker returned to stateside ball in 2022, signing a minor league deal with the Braves before joining San Diego this past offseason. Since signing with the Padres, Tucker has put up impressive numbers at the Triple-A level, slashing .342/.468/.658 in 44 games. While Tucker posted those massive numbers in the offense-inflated Pacific Coast League, they’re impressive even for that offensive environment as demonstrated by a wRC+ of 166.
Looking ahead, Tucker will of course be focused on working back from the plantar fasciitis that landed him on the injured list today. When he’s ready to be activated, he’ll have to be added to the active roster in San Diego, as Tucker does not have options remaining. He would figure to join a bench that currently includes Nelson Cruz, Brandon Dixon and Rougned Odor.
As for Felipe, the 25-year-old reliever has yet to make his big league debut and has struggled to a 6.20 ERA in 24 2/3 innings of work with the club’s Triple-A affiliate this season. Assuming the youngster goes unclaimed on waivers, it seems likely the club will assign outright Felipe to the minor leagues, where he would then act as bullpen depth for the club going forward.