MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that Phillies outfielder/first baseman Darin Ruf has been diagnosed with a Grade 1/2 left oblique strain and will be out four to six weeks as a result. Ruf suffered the injury taking a swing during batting practice.
Ruf was competing for a roster spot as a back-up outfielder and first baseman. However, he wasn’t having a great spring, slashing .217/.308/.391 in 46 Grapefruit League at-bats. There was a chance he was going to start the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley so that he could get regular playing time, but that is now an issue the Phillies won’t have to deal with until May, it appears. In Ruf’s absence, the Phillies could choose to add non-roster invitees Bobby Abreu and/or Tony Gwynn, Jr.
Ruf impressed in his first lengthy stint in the Majors last season, posting an .806 OPS with 14 home runs in 251 trips to the plate. Unfortunately, he is roadblocked at first base by Ryan Howard and in both outfield corners by Domonic Brown and Marlon Byrd.
The Phillies have signed free agent outfielder Michael Saunders.
Saunders was an All-Star in 2016 due to his wonderful start, but he cratered in the second half of the season. Overall is numbers looked good — he hit 24 homers and posted a line of .253/.338/.478, but his second half line was .178/.282/.357 in 58 games. He’s not the best defender around either.
The Phillies could use him, however, and if he has another red hot first half, there’s a decent chance they could flip him if they wanted to.
It was first reported that the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista were close to a deal last night. Now Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is near completion. It will likely a two-year contract in the $35-40 million range.
Bautista had a tough 2016, hitting .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI, and some clubs likely considered a long-term deal for the 36-year-old too risky, this leading to the relative lack of reported interest in Bautista by other clubs. But back-to-back ALCS appearances by the Jays and the success and popularity Bautista has experienced in Toronto make his re-signing there a pretty sensible move for all involved.
The Jays, who already lost Edwin Encarnacion to free agency, get their slugger back on a short term deal. Unlike anyone else, they don’t have to give up the draft pick attached to him via the qualifying offer. Bautista, in turn, will make, on average, more than he would’ve made on the qualifying offer if he would’ve accepted it and a raise over the $14 million he made in 2016.