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3 SF Giants who could lose their 40-man roster spot

Sep 22, 2020; San Francisco, California, USA; San Francisco Giants left fielder Darin Ruf (33) hits a single during the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 22, 2020; San Francisco, California, USA; San Francisco Giants left fielder Darin Ruf (33) hits a single during the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
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SF Giants, Darin Ruf
SF Giants first baseman Darin Ruf (33) celebrates after hitting a solo home run against the Seattle Mariners during the seventh inning at Oracle Park. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

As Opening Day approaches, the SF Giants will soon set their active roster for the regular season. With some obvious spots up for competition, the team’s front office will likely need to clear space on the 40-man roster. Usually, teams can place players who have suffered severe injuries on the 60-day injured list to clear space for new additions, but the Giants have already placed John Brebbia, Tyler Beede, and Dedniel Núñez on the 60-day IL.

Without any space on the 40-man roster, the Giants will have to designate a player for assignment if they want to add someone like Jason Krizan, Silvino Bracho, Nick Tropeano, Dominic Leone, or Scott Kazmir to the big-league roster. While it’s unlikely that the team will add more than a couple of those players, that would still displace two current members of the 40-man roster. If that happens, who is most at risk of losing their spot?

3 SF Giants who could lose their 40-man roster spot
1. Darin Ruf

Darin Ruf was one of the best stories on the Giants roster last season. Less than a year later, it’s hard to see him in San Francisco for the entire 2021 season. The 34-year old was exceptional at the plate last season, posting a .276/.370/.517 triple-slash, primarily against southpaws. Still, a career-high .322 BABIP and 23.8% home run-to-flyball rate suggest he was a beneficiary of some good luck.

Don’t get it twisted. Expected statistics, like xwOBA, rate Ruf as a squarely above-average hitter. Even if Brandon Belt starts the season on the injured list, Wilmer Flores, Jason Vosler, Tommy La Stella, LaMonte Wade Jr, and even Buster Posey are comfortable at first base with similar offensive profiles. Whenever Belt returns to his position as the everyday first baseman, it becomes harder to envision Ruf finding consistent at-bats.

This spring, Ruf has received the second-most plate appearances of any player on the Giants (right behind Vosler). While Vosler is hitting over .300, Ruf has struck out in over 30% of his plate appearances and generated a meager .229/.364/.371 triple-slash. If San Francisco did not have other options, Ruf has looked competent enough to earn an MLB roster spot. However, with so much competition in camp, he has to outhit the other players to make up for his defensive limitations. He has not done that.

Ruf would almost assuredly be claimed off waivers by another team. For Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, he might create some intriguing trade opportunities to acquire a lottery-ticket prospect from another organization. Zaidi has shown a tendency to be aggressive on the trade market towards the end of spring training and early into the regular season. Ruf, who remains under team control through arbitration for two years beyond 2021, seems like a piece he could look to move.

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