The Padres have released outfielder Adam Engel, according to his transactions tracker at MLB.com. He had been designated for assignment on the weekend.
Engel, 31, was signed this winter to a major league deal with a $1MM guarantee, just a bit above the $720K minimum for this season. Unfortunately, he suffered a hamstring strain during Spring Training and began the season on the injured list. He returned in early May and wasn’t really given any playing time, getting six plate appearances in five games before being designated for assignment recently.
The club had some uncertainty in the outfield coming into the season, as Fernando Tatis Jr. still had 20 games remaining on his suspension from last season. However, he was back in the lineup by the time Engel came off the injured list, joining Juan Soto and Trent Grisham in the outfield. It seems the club prefers to roll with José Azocar as its fourth outfielder and will let Engel walk.
Prior to joining the Padres, Engel had spent his entire career with the White Sox, largely serving as a glove-first outfielder. His career batting line of .224/.279/.349 translates to a 71 wRC+, indicating he’s been 29% worse than league average overall. However, he’s stolen 47 bases and received positive reviews from advanced defensive metrics. In 3715 2/3 innings over 528 career games, he’s accrued 53 Outs Above Average, 20 Defensive Runs Saved and a score of 2.3 from Ultimate Zone Rating. Statcast put his sprint speed in the 92nd percentile last year.
Even if the Padres had tried to pass Engel through outright waivers, he has more than five years of major league service time, giving him the right to reject an outright assignment in favor of free agency. Now that Engel has been released, they will remain on the hook for his salary while allowing another club to sign him for the protated league minimum for any time spent on the active roster, with that amount subtracted from what the Friars pay. He’ll now head to the open market in search of a team in need of a fleet-footed outfielder for its bench.