As I mentioned Friday, outfielder Nelson Cruz of your Texas Rangers is expected to be among the 13 players receiving suspensions today as a result of the Biogenesis PED investigation by Major League Baseball. CBS Sports says Cruz will not appeal the decision and will begin serving his 50-game sentence immediately.
The Rangers have 50 games left in the regular season, which would mean Cruz will be back in time for the playoffs. If the Rangers can make the playoffs without his presence in the lineup. (They’re currently 2.5 games back in the American League West, and a half-game back for the second wild card spot.) Evan Grant’s take:
It could, however, also mean the end of Cruz’s career with the Rangers. San Francisco lost outfielder Melky Cabrera to a 50-game suspension last year that wiped out the end of his regular season, but the Giants opted not to bring Cabrera back for the postseason. Cruz has hit 25 home runs, tied for fourth in the American League, and has driven in 73 runs, sixth in the AL. Cruz has been the third-most important player in the Rangers’ lineup this season, according to FanGraphs.com calculation of the all-around value metric of WAR (Wins Above Replacement). Third baseman Adrian Beltre has a 3.5 WAR value, center fielder Leonys Martin a 1.6 and Cruz a 1.5.
The Rangers will have to choose from a passel of backup outfield choices – Jeff Baker, Engel Beltre, Craig Gentry – infielder-turned-utility-man Jurickson Profar, minor leaguers Joey Butler and Jim Adduci and the rather thin August trade market to try and replace Cruz in the lineup.
General manager Jon Daniels, speaking before the penalties were imposed, said the club will replace Cruz in right field, but won’t be able to replace his production.
“We don’t have that skill set here,” Daniels said.
UPDATE: The suspensions are now official.