Not gonna lie, I’m only posting this for two reasons:
(1) Because, unbeknownst to me before now, people are calling this guy “Babe Ruf,” which is awesome; and
(2) Halladay’s Bicepts was whining on Twitter that I wouldn’t mention it because of this site’s apparently obvious and longstanding eschewing of Phillies news. Or something.
Anyway: the Phillies have called up Darin Ruf, who wowed the Eastern League this year by smacking 38 homers at Reading while posting a line of .317/.408/.620.
Now, why I wouldn’t normally post this but for the nickname and the taunting? He’s 26 and he’s playing in Double-A, for starters, and that’s really old for that league. And because he has no defensive credentials or, with the Phillies anyway, much of a future.
Indeed, he has played mostly first base in the minors, and since Ryan Howard isn’t going anyplace, he won’t be playing first in Philly. If he had left field chops the Phillies would have made sure he was playing a lot more of it to prepare him for the big club. That they didn’t means that he is either unsafe at any speed out there or else the Phillies really don’t see him as part of their future.
My guess for the best case scenario: he showcases his one skill — mashing taters — by smacking a bunch of homers against expanded roster bullpens and then Philly tries to deal him to a team that has a place for a 1B/DH in his late 20s with almost zero major league experience. The Royals would have bit at that once but they don’t really need it anymore. But someone will at some point, so he’s worth the audition. Maybe you get a bullpen arm out of him or something.
Or, heck, they could do the sensible thing and platoon him with Howard, but that would probably make everyone on the planet kinda mad.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.
The Nationals are trying to go big this offseason, and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes that they are still in trade talks for White Sox’ left-hander Chris Sale and Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Both players figure to command a big return, as Sale delivered another Cy Young-worthy performance in 2016 and, despite a downturn in his production rate, McCutchen is still one of the more coveted sluggers in the National League.
In 2016, Sale led the league in complete games, with six, and turned in a 3.34 ERA and 5.2 fWAR in 226 2/3 innings. While teams have been sniffing around the White Sox’ ace since the trade deadline, the club is expected to maintain a high asking price — so high, said FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, that it may keep the left-hander in Chicago for the foreseeable future.
According to Heyman, four other teams are reportedly in the mix for Sale, including the Red Sox, Astros, Rangers, and Braves, though parts of Rosenthal’s tweet hinted that the Red Sox were maintaining their interest in hopes of striking a more affordable deal. Should the Nationals pursue a deal for Sale, it’s likely that they’d have to move shortstop/center fielder Trea Turner, which they appear reluctant to do.
McCutchen, meanwhile, is also drawing interest around the league after batting .256/.336/.430 with 24 home runs in 675 PA during 2016. He didn’t appear to lose much power in his eighth season with the Pirates, but took considerably fewer walks and struck out at a career-high clip.
The Nationals were said to be in the lead for McCutchen on Thursday, and there was some expectation that the club would wrap up a trade for the center fielder by the non-tender deadline on Friday. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi pointed out that the Rangers were also talking to the Pirates, however, and no deal has come to fruition as of yet.