New Dodgers employee Nelson Cruz officially retired with AL team in surprising move

Cleveland Guardians v San Diego Padres
Cleveland Guardians v San Diego Padres / Orlando Ramirez/GettyImages

Nelson Cruz was just one of the Dodgers' player-to-front-office hires of the offseason, but he and Chris Archer were certainly notable because they never played for LA during their long careers. This stood in opposition to ex-Dodger Matt Kemp, who rejoined in an advisory role in late February.

Cruz has nearly 20 years of major league playing time, but he retired after only 49 games with the Padres in 2023. He jumped around quite a bit in his last five years, but prior to that, he'd spent most of his time (eight years) with the Rangers.

This year, he made his retirement official, but not with Texas. Instead, he signed a one-day contract with the Mariners, who he spent four seasons with between 2015 and 2018, and celebrated on Mariners Opening Day by throwing out the first pitch to Félix Hernández. It's a bit of an odd choice, which many Twitter users were quick to note in the replies and quote tweets of the Mariners' announcement post.

Current Dodgers front office member and seven-time All-Star Nelson Cruz to officially retire with the Mariners

Although Cruz's departure from the Rangers didn't seem to come with any turmoil between him and the team, he was marked by the PED/Biogenesis scandal of 2013, which saw him suspended for 65 games at the end of the season. Texas still extended him a qualifying offer, which he turned down in favor of a one-year contract with the Orioles. He saw that deal out before signing with the Mariners following an ALCS trip.

Some of his best years did take place in Seattle; he represented them in three All-Star games in four years and racked up MVP votes three times with the highest place finish (sixth, tied with his 2020 season with the Twins) of his career in 2015. However, for a guy who played with eight different teams throughout his career, looking back to a team he left in 2018 instead of one that made him a star is a bit of a head-scratcher.

Cruz is currently employed as an advisor by the Dodgers, focusing on their scouting operations in his native Dominican Republic.