Nearly six months ago, it was reported that Texas Rangers slugger and outfielder Nelson Cruz was among several MLB stars who were being investigated for allegedly purchasing performance enhancing drug products from a clinic in Florida that specializes in the distribution of anabolic steroids and Human Growth Hormone.
It is now being reported nearly 20 players involved in this investigation, including Cruz as well as former Ranger Alex Rodriguez, could be facing major suspensions. If this indeed comes to fruition, and the suspensions are upheld, it would be the biggest performance-enhancing-drug scandal in the history of sports.
Despite the fact that Cruz (and several of the others) has not yet failed a drug test, MLB officials believe that they have enough information to suspend the players based upon the testimony of Tony Bosch, the founder of the company from which the PEDs were allegedly purchased; nevertheless, there is some that doubt this will be enough to make the suspensions stick. Though some players, such as A-Rod and Ryan Braun could face 100-game suspensions, it is believed that Cruz would receive a 50-game suspension considering it would be his first incident.
There is no doubt that Cruz has played a key role in the Rangers’ recent rise to the top, and a potential suspension would no doubt affect the Rangers. Prior to this news, many fans believed this would likely be his last season with Texas, but the major question is how this would affect the ball club in the short term, especially considering the team has found themselves in a tight race with the Oakland A’s for the AL West crown that will likely, once again, come down to the end.
This season, Cruz is .268/.323/.512 line with 14 home runs. It would be very difficult for the Rangers to replace his offensive firepower in a lineup that hasn’t been very strong this season, considering he is no doubt one of the strongest bats on the team. Sure, they could move some players around to fill in the void in the outfield, but replacing his bat will be nearly impossible with the current group of players, which could force the Rangers to consider making a trade.
Again, it’s too early to tell if these suspensions will even come to light, however, the Rangers need to start looking for ways to minimize the damage to their lineup if they do happen to lose Nelson Cruz for 50 or more games.