On Sunday, Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels confirmed that outfielder Nelson Cruz will be activated for Monday’s tie-breaker game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Cruz completed his 50-game suspension for the use of performance-enhancing drugs in Sunday’s season finale.
While Cruz will be on the roster, it will be up to manager Ron Washington whether or not the 33-year-old plays. Cruz was playing in the instructional leagues in Arizona until Saturday, where he was 9-for-27 with five doubles, a home run and nine RBIs. He was facing minor league competition, mostly Double-A and Class A pitchers.
To bring Cruz aboard, the Rangers will have to make a corresponding move to open a spot on the 40-man roster.
Cruz was suspended on August 5 for his role in the Biogenesis scandal. When he was banned, the slugger was hitting .269 with 27 home runs and 76 RBIs. He boasted a .330 on-base percentage, an OPS of .841 and a 2.2 WAR. He will be a free agent after this season, so a good showing in the postseason would dramatically help his chances at a decent contract this offseason.
The Rangers have won seven straight games to earn the chance to face the Rays in a tie-breaker for the final American League wild-card spot on Monday. Their 6-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday kept the Rangers alive for a shot against the Rays in game 163.
The Rays will send David Price to the hill, while the Rangers will go with Martin Perez. Whichever team wins on Monday will face the Boston Red Sox in the American League Divisional Series starting on Friday.
The Rangers have really missed Cruz’s offense in the outfield and at one point suffered through a 5-15 stretch in September. They could really use his bat on Monday and certainly beyond if the reach the ALDS.