All-Stars Nelson Cruz and Jhonny Peralta made a selfish decision in cheating the game of baseball by using performance-enhancing drugs. Now that MLB has finally handed down its punishments from the Biogenesis scandal, Cruz and Peralta have each made another: to serve their 50-game suspension rather than appeal.
Cruz and Peralta were two of 13 players who received suspensions. Of the 13, all but one -- Alex Rodriguez -- chose to serve the suspensions immediately. Many of the players were minor leaguers or role players on their teams, but Cruz and Peralta are star players on their teams -- the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers, respectively -- who are heavily involved in a playoff race.
The thing that separates this situation from the others is that Cruz and Peralta will both be free agents after this season.
Like Rodriguez, these two players could have appealed their suspensions. All reports indicate that A-Rod’s appeal process could last into November or December, meaning that he will likely play the rest of the season barring injury.
The Yankees have a long road in trying to compete for the postseason, but the Rangers and Tigers would both be in the playoffs if the season ended today. If Cruz and Peralta appealed, their respective teams would at least have them for playoff runs.
Either way, these players would have to serve their suspensions. But by getting them out of the way now, Cruz and Peralta will not have to worry about the suspensions possibly costing them a lucrative, long-term contract.
Both players are over 30, but based on production in recent years, both would have earned a hefty multi-year deal. That still might be the case if a team out there is willing to give either of these players a second chance.
Knowing that they’ll have either player for the full season barring injury, a team will still take a chance on these All-Stars. It’s amazing how quickly a team can forget a player’s past in order to help the team win baseball games.
However, the problem here is that these players are compounding an already-strained relationship with their current teams. Rather than appealing and trying to make amends for cheating the game by playing their very best to help their team make the playoffs, they are each looking out for themselves.
It will be difficult for the Rangers and Tigers to cope with these losses. The Tigers traded for defensive-minded shortstop Jose Iglesias as part of the three-team deal with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox, but he lacks the offensive punch provided by Peralta.
Meanwhile, the Rangers called up Engel Beltre and Joey Butler from the minor leagues to somehow fill the void left by Cruz. The Tigers will still have a formidable lineup without Peralta, but the Rangers really lose a huge part of their offense in Cruz.
If loyalty mattered in baseball, a team interested in Cruz or Peralta as a free agent may balk at the fact that they chose their upcoming contract over their team’s chances at the playoffs. But since loyalty no longer exists in baseball, both players are bound to find a home for 2014 and beyond.
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