UPDATE: One week after declining the option of remaining in the Rays’ system Ruggiano has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Astros.
Tampa Bay’s 40-man roster housecleaning is costing Triple-A Durham its best players.
This morning the Rays traded reigning Triple-A MVP Russ Canzler to the Indians for cash considerations after designating him for assignment and his Durham teammate Justin Ruggiano chose free agency over an assignment to Triple-A.
Ruggiano has struggled in a few brief stints in the majors, hitting just .226 with six homers and a .621 OPS in 98 games spread over three seasons, but he’s consistently posted strong numbers in the minors and probably deserves a chance somewhere at age 29.
Of course, he’s also spent the past five seasons at Durham, so it’s understandable that Ruggiano would decline an assignment there and take his chances finding work in another organization. Overall at Triple-A he’s hit .289 with 68 homers and an .835 OPS in 476 games, which suggests his best role in the majors would be as a platoon corner outfielder facing primarily left-handed pitching.
Last month, free agent right-hander Bartolo Colon told reporters that he’d be open to taking a minor league deal in 2018, but only if he was guaranteed a return to the Mets’ system. The 44-year-old starter is nearing the end of a 20-year career, and it makes sense that he’d want to have one last hurrah in the city where he had some of his most productive years.
Now, Twins starter Ervin Santana tells Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, it looks like the Mets might also be open to a reunion. It’s doubtful that Colon has all that much left in the tank, especially following a combined 7-14 record and 6.48 ERA for the Braves and Twins last year, but he’s not necessarily looking to reproduce the 15+ win, sub-4.00 ERA totals of years past.
Instead, Santana says, Colon is seeking the opportunity to win just six more games. He’ll enter the 2018 season five wins shy of the all-time record for a Latin American-born player, and is hoping to claim that title for himself before he enters retirement in 2019. Former Orioles and Expos hurler Dennis Martinez currently holds the record after clinching his 245th win back in 1998. While it took Colon a full season of starts to come up with even seven wins in 2017, he’s only one year removed from a 15-win campaign in 2016. Provided that the Mets are willing to gamble on him again, the milestone may not be that far out of reach.