The Padres announced that outfielder Adam Engel has been designated for assignment. The move opens up a roster spot for Jose Azocar, who has been reinstated from the 10-day injured list.
Left elbow inflammation sent Azocar to the IL (retroactively) on May 3, and he received a cortisone shot to help heal up. Azocar collected two hits for Triple-A El Paso yesterday, and that will end up being the only game of Azocar’s minor league rehab assignment before his return to the Show. Azocar has hit only .244/.262/.293 over 45 plate appearances for San Diego this season, but he’ll step back into his customary backup outfield role, displacing Engel in the process.
Engel began the season on the IL with a hamstring injury, and didn’t make his season debut until May 7. He has appeared in only five games and gone 0-for-6 over six plate appearances, and two of his appearances came as a pinch-runner. While not exactly a lengthy audition for Engel, the Padres appear more comfortable with Azcoar as their fourth outfielder, though San Diego’s roster is a little crowded by a DH-only player in Nelson Cruz, and a mostly-DH in Matt Carpenter.
The Padres signed Engel to a one-year, $1MM deal this past winter, so they are still responsible for the roughly $700K owed to the outfielder in remaining salary unless another team claims Engel off waivers or a trade is worked out. In all likelihood, Engel will clear waivers, so a new club could pick him up at only the cost of the prorated MLB minimum salary, leaving the Padres covering the rest of that $700K. Engel has enough MLB service time that he can refuse an outright assignment from the Padres in order to return to free agency.
Engel has a respectable track record as a defensive player and baserunner, even if his career .224/.279/.349 slash line over 1546 PA (all with the White Sox before 2023) is subpar. Outfield-needy teams seem likely to check in on Engel for a no-risk minor league deal, since the Padres are footing the bill for the remainder of his 2023 contract.