The Rangers Aren't On Cruz Control

"Those weren't vitamins?" - Nick Laham

First of all, on a more general note, this year's trading deadline was highly influenced by PEDs and the impending suspensions of around 20 players. The Tigers, having sent Jhonny Peralta to the All-Star Game, were in the market for a SS, landing Jose Iglesias because Detroit figures to need a SS for the next 50 days. The Rangers were on the prowl for a hitter, partly because the team went into a slide of being shutout for nearly 3 games and partly because Nelson Cruz' immediate future is in immediate danger.

Were the A's interested in Jake Peavy as a potential replacement for Bartolo Colon, then not so keen once word trickled down that Colon was safe from this round of suspensions? We don't know, but we do know that teams all around baseball were highly cognizant of how their rosters might be changing in the next couple days.

The case of Nelson Cruz is especially interesting because Cruz is eligible for free agency after the season. Meanwhile, as suspensions are about to be levied the Rangers are approaching game 112, which is the "50 games left in the regular season" mark. If suspended, Cruz can appeal or he can accept his suspension.

From the Rangers' point of view, if Cruz can appeal and get his suspension pushed back to the start of 2014 that serves their needs beautifully: They have Cruz for the stretch drive and any post-season games, and then Cruz's suspension becomes somebody else's problem.

Trouble is, the opposite is true for Cruz: From his point of view, the worst thing that can happen is that he enters free agency with a suspension hanging over him. Far, far better for him to get the 50 games over with and enter free agency saying, "You don't know what you're going to get now that I'm clean, but you can find out April 1st" -- rather than at the end of May.

If you were applying for a new job, you would probably prefer not to have to say, in your job interview, "Oh but I can't start for 50 days because I have this go-to-jail thingy I have to take care of." Delaying his suspension would cost Cruz a lot of money on the free agent market, and so the best thing Cruz can do for himself is to tick off his current employer and refuse to appeal.

It's a situation where what's best for the team and what's best for the individual are in direct conflict. Could there be some negotiations occurring between team and player to try to reconcile their divergent interests? If Cruz appeals his suspension and then Texas brings Cruz back on a one-year deal for 2014, you will have good reason to suspect such a "back-alley conversation" took place.

Further complicating matters is the timing that the suspensions are supposed to be announced in the next day or so, and Texas is about to start a 3-game showdown with Oakland, the team they are chasing in the AL West. Will Cruz be suspended, and start serving his suspension, right as the Rangers get set to take on the A's? Or will Cruz appeal and delay the inevitable in the interest of giving Texas the best chance to compete in 2013? One scenario is far better for the team -- but the other may be far better for the player.

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