SF Giants add popular slugger to the active roster

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

That did not take long. After signing a minor league deal at the end of last week, Darin Ruf was added back to the active roster on Wednesday. Sean Hjelle was optioned to Triple-A per the team's transaction log.

SF Giants add popular slugger to the active roster

Ruf was shipped to the New York Mets in a midseason trade least year in exchange for J.D. Davis, Thomas Szapucki, Nick Zwack, and Carson Seymour. This proved to be a complete win for the Giants as Davis has returned to being a legitimate bat and all three pitchers offer intrigue.

Less than a year later, the Giants now have the rights to all five players involved in that trade. While it was a shrewd move by the front office, it was tough to see Ruf depart unexpectedly. It was even tougher to see him struggle so mightily with the Mets as he recorded just 10 hits in 66 at-bats with the Mets following the trade.

New York designated him for assignment at the end of Spring Training. Not surprisingly, the right-handed bat cleared waivers and become a free agent.

Ruf was initially fantastic for the Giants as he posted a combined .900 OPS in his first two seasons with San Francisco. However, he struggled to the tune of a .701 OPS in 314 plate appearances before the trade last year. Despite his struggles at the plate last year, the power-hitting outfielder was still productive against lefties (.753 OPS) and was likely miscast as an everyday player.

The 36-year-old added a jolt of excitement to the lineup in his 2023 debut as he tallied two hits with one RBI in four at-bats against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday. His first hit was a double and nearly cleared the fences in the left side of center field.

The Giants are slated to face a couple of lefties in the series against the Detroit Tigers this weekend. Whether he remains with the club after that is anyone's guess. However, he is a popular clubhouse presence, so that will factor ino his favor.

If Ruf proves that he can still handle left-handed pitching, it is not hard to envision him carving out a role with the Giants. This is especially true with Austin Slater and Mitch Haniger on the injured list.

Sean Hjelle was optioned in a corresponding roster move. The 40-man roster had one opening, so adding Ruf back to it did not require another corresponding move. Hjelle struggled in three appearances in 2023 after putting together a really solid camp.