Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/6/13
Suspended star outfielder Nelson Cruz is expected to report to the Rangers' Instructional League sometime next week suggesting there's a decent chance he could be back playing for them come playoff time though a spot isn't guaranteed to him. However Cruz's chances to remain with the Rangers long-term seem somewhat iffier with the revelation that a Cruz offer presented by his previous agents last winter to sign back with them for $56 million over four years was declined by the team at the time. Cruz's old agents the embattled Levinson brothers of ACES went to Texas with the proposal for that deal that would pay him $14 million per year CBSSports.com learned and while a lot has changed since then (including Cruz's representation; he recently switched to Adam Katz) there's no evidence the Rangers might reverse course and accept a similar deal. Beyond the agent change which could easily alter the plan going forward two other major factors carry the potential to cause a reassessment of Cruz's value. One is the 50-game PED suspension he accepted from MLB for his link to the Biogenesis case. The other is the 33-year-old Cruz's huge year before he went to the sidelines for the ban; he had 27 home runs 76 RBI and a .269 batting average numbers that put him on pace for about 40 homers and 110 RBI and could play huge in a market without many sluggers.. The Rangers are making "no guarantees" he'll be back on the team should they make the playoffs though manager Ron Washington has signaled a preference to have him back and there seems to be no hard feelings over his 50-game suspension for PEDs or his subsequent decision to accept his penalty rather than appeal the ban as a few of his teammates had hoped he would. Cruz is considered a "plus" clubhouse presence and he scored points for opening up to teammates about his Biogenesis involvement in spring. So the decision whether to activate him for the playoffs will come down to how he looks in the Instructional League and perhaps to a slightly lesser extent how the active Rangers outfielders are performing. Texas acquired Alex Rios to play right field after losing Cruz and he's hitting .283 for the Rangers (and has another year to go on his contract) though left fielder David Murphy has struggled most of the year and is at .222.
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