Nelson Cruz was in the middle of a great season for the Texas Rangers, leading the team in both home runs (27) and RBIs (76), then the Biogenesis scandal broke. Cruz was among 13 active MLB players who were handed substantial punishments from the MLB for the use of PEDs, receiving a 50-game suspension. If he chose to appeal the suspension, Nelson Cruz could have pushed back the enactment of the suspension until an arbitrator decided the case, which likely would not have been until the off-season. With the Rangers currently locked in a dogfight for the lead in the AL West, appealing the suspension could have enabled one of their most productive bats to stay in the lineup down the pivotal closing stretch and into the playoffs.
However, Cruz is a free agent at the end of the season. Choosing to appeal his suspension means he would have to serve out the punishment next season, making him an unappealing free agent to many clubs since he would have had the potential to miss the first 50 games of next year. Instead, Cruz chose to serve his suspension now, taking himself out of the lineup for the remainder of this crucial stretch for the Rangers but freeing himself of the weight of an impending suspension heading into the free agency in the off-season.
Texas needed to find a passable replacement for Cruz’s spot in the lineup quickly as they fight for the lead in the AL West. The Rangers decided to claim Alex Rios off waivers from the Chicago White Sox in a somewhat surprising move that many felt would fall through. The two teams had tried to finalize a deal to send Rios to Texas ahead of the trade deadline but could not agree on terms.
However, Chicago and Texas were able to finalize the terms on the deal with the White Sox sending Rios and $1 million in cash to the Rangers for 22-year-old infield prospect Leury Garcia.
In Rios, the Rangers get a 5-tool outfielder who can be disruptive on the bases, play center field or right field, and hit with some power. If Rios returns to his 2012 form, the Rangers may have just gotten a steal who can be an X-factor for the team down the stretch. The Rangers hope he’ll be just that as they fight to take control of the AL West.