After 3 1/2 years, Rays place Ruggiano on waivers

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The Rays have had talent bursting from the seams for years now, yet for some reason, they had never gotten around to replacing Justin Ruggiano on their 40-man roster until finally making the Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon signings official today.

Ruggiano, along with Cuban defector Leslie Anderson, were designated for assignment to make room for the two veterans.

Ruggiano was added to the 40-man roster and called up by the Rays way back on Sept. 16, 2007. He got 14 at-bats with the team at the end of the season and had three hits and three RBI. In 2008, he received four callups and played in 45 games, hitting .197/.247/.329 in 76 at-bats. Already 26, his future seemed dim at that point.

Still, the Rays kept carrying him. Ruggiano slipped to .250/.330/.412 in his third season in Triple-A in 2009, and he was never given a callup, even after the rosters expanded in September. Yet there he was, still on the 40-man roster again all winter. In 2010, he bounced back somewhat, hitting .287/.357/.453 for Durham. Again, he was denied even a September callup.

So, Ruggiano ended up spending three years and five months on the Rays’ 40-man roster and giving the team a .200/.250/.311 line in 90 at-bats during the span. With the way his minor league numbers have fallen off the last two years, it’s hard to imagine him being claimed off waivers. He probably wouldn’t even be very intriguing to a Japanese team at this point. If he ever shows up on a 40-man roster again, it’d be an upset.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.