It wasn't an easy decision for Nelson Cruz to take the 50-game suspension and leave his team for the final few months of the 2013 season. But Cruz also knew that he had to clear that suspension before he hit the open market. And then answer questions once he got there.
But as Jhonny Peralta's contract shows, PED users can get lucrative contracts, especially knowing they can play in Game 1 of the 2014 season. Peralta, who served his 50-game suspension in Detroit last year and returned for the end of the season and the postseason, agreed to terms on a four-year deal worth around $52 million this weekend.
Peralta is a few years younger than Cruz and hit .303 last season. He isn't a power guy like Cruz, though, hitting 11 homers and driving in 55 RBIs last year, primarily batting sixth or seventh.
If Peralta can get four years and $52 million, can't Cruz get more than that? Four years might seem like a bit of a stretch, in that Cruz turns 34 in July. But he hits for more power -- 27 homers last year in just 109 games and has hit at least 22 homers in each of his five full seasons in the big leagues -- and he drove in 76 runs in 2013, which was leading the Rangers until his suspension.
Cruz is a middle-of-the-order hitter with a history of postseason success. If Peralta's deal is any indication, the PED suspension last year won't hurt him at all. He's due for a big payday.
If he doesn't sign with the Rangers, by the way, Texas will receive a draft pick as compensation.