SF Giants Veteran power bat elects free agency after clearing waivers
The right-handed power bat became a free agent after the New York Mets placed him on waivers prior to the start of the season. Ruf is making $3 million in 2023 with a $3.5 million team option for 2024 that includes a $250,000 buyout.
As is often the case for players with meaningful salary obligations, Ruf cleared waivers. If a team had made a claim, then they would have assumed the remainder of his contract. It is relatively uncommon for a player who making anything more than the league minimum to be claimed.
Ruf's foray into free agency did not last long as the Giants signed him to a minor league deal. He did not play a minor league game before the Giants purchased his contract. This was a targeted move due in part to the fact that the Giants were slated to face a handful of left-handed pitchers and Ruf remains a solid option against lefties.
It was expected to be a short-term move given that Austin Slater and Mitch Haniger began the year on the injured list. Similar to Ruf, Slater and Haniger have good career numbers against southpaws.
That said, we made the case that the 36-year-old hitter could fill a niche role on the Giants given J.D. Davis' improved defense. Obviously, that did not come to fruition as the Giants placed him on waivers the morning that article was published.
In his brief time with the Giants, Ruf recorded six hits, including two doubles, with four walks against nine strikeouts in 27 plate appearances. From 2020 - 2021, he was one of the better hitters in baseball.
However, his production cratered last year and it continued after the trade that sent him to New York in exchange for four players including Davis. Despite his recent struggles, Ruf still has a solid .886 OPS against lefties throughout his nine-year career.
He is relatively limited defensively. DH is likely his best position, but he has experience at first base and the corner outfield spots. It feels like he can still help a team if he finds one that is looking for a DH-only bat on the weak side of the platoon.