ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 17: Nelson Cruz #17 of the Texas Rangers rounds third base after hitting a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on June 17, 2013 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Nelson Cruz has accepted MLB's 50-game suspension and will not appeal the ruling for his alleged involvement in the Biogenesis Anti-Aging Clinic scandal.
There are several reports surfacing about many facets of the ruling, including one from the USA Today saying the Rangers were "stunned" and blind-sided by Cruz's decision to not appeal the suspension and help his team down the stretch. If he'd appealed, Cruz would be able to play out the season through the appeals process.
But by all accounts, he's taking his medicine now and it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.
As we've discussed several times on these pages, Cruz is a 33-year-old free agent-to-be, and it's been a long-assumed thing that the Rangers would let Cruz walk in free agency.
What the Rangers probably didn't expect was for Cruz to put up a career year and actually show a decent amount of consistency at the plate after being known as an extremely streaky player who could go win an ALCS by himself (see 2011) or could fall off the face of the Earth for a month.
Cruz ends the regular season as the team leader in home runs (27) and RBIs (76), just ahead of Adrian Beltre in both categories. With the suspension in his past heading into the off-season, he'll be one of the more appealing free-agent bats on the market, whereas had he appealed the suspension and lost he'd be going into free agency with a 50-game black cloud hanging over his head.
This, without a doubt, hurts the Rangers and their chances of surpassing Oakland in the AL West or even claiming one of the two AL Wild Card spots — one of which is almost certainly going to belong to an AL East team, either Boston or Tampa Bay, presumably.
But the Rangers could still make a postseason run, and Cruz would be eligible to be a part of that.
Many have assumed the Rangers would not welcome Cruz back to their lineup, much like the San Francisco Giants did with the NL's leading hitter at the time, Melky Cabrera, last season. The current Blue Jay was eligible to return for the postseason, but the Giants said "no thanks" and went on to win the World Series with their pitching staff.
With the Matt Garza acquisition and a stellar bullpen, the Rangers have the pitching to make a run without Cruz, but his production is a lot to lose at this point in the season. And, if his teammates were cool with it, it wouldn't be shocking to see Cruz get back on the roster for the postseason, should the Rangers qualify.
"I look forward to regaining the trust and respect of the Rangers organization, my teammates, and the great Rangers fans, and I am grateful for the opportunity to rejoin the team for the playoffs," Cruz said in a statement released to the media on Monday.
It's understandable that Rangers fans might be mad at Cruz for making the decision to use the PEDs and to bail on his team at this time, but what if the evidence is so overwhelming he would lose an appeal before the season ends? Then you don't have him for the postseason if you get there.
Cruz has always been a solid teammate, though this is a pretty big strike against him in that department, and a well-liked guy and should be welcomed back after taking his medicine and serving his time.
Then, if the Rangers play in October, he'll have the chance to regain the admiration of the Rangers fans. Until then, those fans will have to hope they get a chance to see if Cruz will even be welcomed back.