Major League Baseball will seek to suspend about 20 players connected to the Miami-area clinic at the heart of an ongoing performance-enhancing drug scandal, including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, possibly within the next few weeks, "Outside the Lines" has learned. If the suspensions are upheld, the performance-enhancing drug scandal would be the largest in American sports history.
Tony Bosch, founder of the now-shuttered Biogenesis of America, reached an agreement this week to cooperate with MLB's investigation, two sources told "Outside the Lines," giving MLB the ammunition officials believe they need to suspend the players.
While there are a whole host of issues at play here, the most immediate issue is what this means for the Rangers and Nelson Cruz.
If suspensions are handed down, Cruz would presumably be one of the players who would be suspended, either for 50 games or, if MLB is successful in what ESPN is reporting they are seeking, for 100 games.
The timing of this is still up in the air, however. The ESPN report says that they could pursue this "possibly within the next few weeks." However, even if that's the case, the players in question are going to appeal, and the appeals process -- particularly given that you are looking at close to two dozen players -- is going to take some time. The very quickest I could see Cruz being suspended is in a month or so. More likely, a suspension wouldn't kick in until late July or early August, at the soonest.
That being said, it is still worth considering the possible options, should a Cruz suspension come down.
Option 1 -- Leonys Martin plays right field, a minor leaguer comes up to share CF with Craig Gentry
This would be the simplest solution. Leonys Martin has the arm for right field, and you have a choice of three different players -- Engel Beltre, Joe Benson, or Jim Adduci -- who could come up and share the center field job with Gentry.
Option 2 -- Put Mike Olt in right field.
Olt is a natural third baseman -- and a very good one, at that -- but has also gotten time at first base and the outfield corner as the Rangers seek to find a way to make him more versatile and increase his opportunities to get into the lineup. Olt's 2013 has been a disaster so far, as he's been dealing with vision issues that had him not hitting and then put him on the d.l., but if Olt's bat gets going in AAA, and he hits the way the organization feels he's capable of hitting, this could be the best option.
Option 3 -- Trade for a replacement
This is what San Francisco did last year. The Giants dealing for Hunter Pence mystified observers, until Melky Cabrera's 50 game suspension was announced not long thereafter. There are not a bunch of quality rental options that would be available to replace Cruz, but one name to keep in mind is the Brewers' Corey Hart. Hart is a free agent after the season, and the Brewers are already looking like they are going to be sellers.
Option 4 -- Jurickson Profar to right field
This is the most unconventional option, but one that I could see the Rangers possibly going with. There are actually three variations of this option -- you could put Profar at second base, and either put Ian Kinsler in right field, or put Mitch Moreland in right field and put Kinsler at first base. I don't see the Rangers pushing Kinsler to switch positions mid-season, however, and I'm not sure a Profar at 2B/Kinsler at 1B/Moreland at RF alignment would be better defensively than leaving things as-is and putting Profar in right. Profar has never played the outfield, but he's athletic, has a good arm, and putting him out there would minimize the disruption and keep the hierarchy in place (with the rookie being asked to change positions, rather than the veteran Kinsler).