Tony Cruz has made a career out of being a backup catcher in the majors. Heading into 2016, he'd averaged 52 games per season and tended to keep his batting average just around the .200 mark. However, 2016 saw him slide down the organizational depth chart, and he spent almost the entirety of the season at Triple-A Omaha, where he hit .264/.347/.387 to go along with a .321 BABIP. Although he played just four games with the big club, Cruz signed with the Padres on a minor league deal over the offseason, which could offer him a bit more time at the major league level down the road. However, with Austin Hedges lined up for the bulk of the playing time, Cruz's upside is negligible at best if he manages to land a roster spot in San Diego.
Cruz signed a minor league deal with the Padres on Tuesday, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The 30-year-old spent most of his time in Triple-A in 2016, slashing .264/.347/.387 across 363 plate appearances. He was called up for four games, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts over that span. Cruz owns a .218/.260/.308 line across parts of six major league seasons, and will likely serve as organizational depth for the Padres in 2017.
Cruz was released by the Royals on Wednesday. He was designated for assignment earlier this month, and the two sides agreed to part ways. It is hard to fault Cruz for wanting to explore other options, as Salvador Perez is not going anywhere, and the team has made it clear that they like Drew Butera as the backup catcher. Cruz has a career .224/.283/.323 slash line in 638 big league plate appearances and has graded out as a league average defender behind the dish.
The Royals recalled Cruz from Triple-A Omaha on Friday. Cruz has appeared in just three big league games up to this point after playing in 69 games for the Cardinals last year, but he will serve as the Royals' third catcher during September. Cruz posted a .264/.347/.387 slash line over 92 games with Omaha this season.
Cruz was optioned to Triple-A Omaha on Wednesday, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports. Cruz was serving as the club's third catcher and received the call-up with Salvador Perez nursing a minor injury, but the 29-year-old went hitless in three at bats and will now head back to the minors. He's hit a decent .278/.352/.417 at the Triple-A level, so Cruz could see more time in the majors if Kansas City finds themselves pressed for catching depth.
Cruz was recalled from Triple-A Omaha on Sunday, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports. Cruz will help fortify the Royals' depth behind the plate after Salvador Perez was diagnosed with a quad contusion following Saturday's game. While Perez will avoid a DL stint for the time being, he's still expected to miss seven-to-10 days, so Cruz may be able to pick up a start or two over the next week. Cruz will act as the top backup to Drew Butera until Perez is ready to return.