Slugger Nelson Cruz announces retirement after 19-year MLB career

The 2023 season was the last for outfielder and designated hitter Nelson Cruz. The 19-year MLB veteran, most recently of the San Diego Padres, announced his retirement from baseball Thursday on "The Adam Jones Podcast," surprising Jones (one of Cruz's former teammates) and leaving him (mostly) speechless.

Cruz, 43, was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 1998 and made his major-league debut six years later as a late-season call-up for the Milwaukee Brewers, the first of eight teams he'd play for over the next two decades. The Brewers traded Cruz to the Texas Rangers on July 28, 2005, after assigning him to the minors at the start of the season. He hit his first major-league home run three days later, and his career was off and running.

Overall, Cruz is retiring with a .274/.343/.513 triple-slash. He hit 464 home runs and 372 doubles, with 2,053 total hits in his career. He jacked 157 home runs over seven-plus years with the Rangers, six fewer than he hit over just four years with the Seattle Mariners. He won four Silver Sluggers and was an All-Star seven times: three times with the Mariners, twice with the Rangers and once each with the Baltimore Orioles and Minnesota Twins. He was also named ALCS MVP in 2011.

FLUSHING, NY - APRIL 11: San Diego Padres Designated Hitter Nelson Cruz (32) prior to the Major League Baseball game between the San Diego Padres and the New York Mets on April 11, 2023, at Citi Field in Flushing, NY. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)
Nelson Cruz is calling it a career after 19 years and 464 home runs. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

While Cruz spent nearly eight seasons with the Rangers, more than any other team in his career, his time with them didn't end on the best note. Cruz was exposed as part of the Biogenesis PED scandal and was suspended 50 games in August 2013. He missed the rest of the season and eventually turned down the Rangers' $14 million qualifying offer.

Cruz bet on himself that offseason and signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Baltimore Orioles, hoping to rebuild his value. It paid in the form of an MLB-leading 40-home run season, and he signed a four-year contract with the Mariners in December 2014. Despite being 38 at the end of that contract, Cruz spent another five years in the majors, spending two-plus seasons with the Twins, a half-season with the Tampa Bay Rays, one with the Washington Nationals and ending his career with the Padres.

Cruz is also well known for his charitable efforts off the field. He has given back to the Dominican Republic, especially his hometown, Las Matas de Santa Cruz. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cruz donated to the fire station and police station and led a drive that raised more than $400,000 for his community. His fellow players named him the Marvin Miller Man of the Year in 2020, and he won the Roberto Clemente Award in 2021.