The Dodgers acquired 1B/OF Darin Ruf from the Phillies for Howie Kendrick back in November. Today the Yonhap News agency reports that the South Korean baseball club Samsung Lions signed Ruf to a one-year $1.1 million deal.
Ruf made $527,000 in 2016 and fell 14 days short of Super Two eligibility. If he had made it, he would’ve been due a somewhat substantial raise through arbitration. Or, possibly, could’ve been non-tendered by the Dodgers, who may not have wanted to give him a big raise. As it was, however, he was likely to be renewed for roughly the same in 2017 as he made in 2016, with no obvious path to substantial playing time for a veteran-laden Dodgers team.
Despite his short service time, Ruf is no spring chicken. He turned 30 last summer as he hit a meager .205/.236/.337 with three home runs and nine RBI in 89 plate appearances and has played parts of five seasons in the bigs. While he has shown promise at times, his window to establish himself as a regular and to get through his arbitration years in a way that could make him some decent money was closing. As such, from a purely financial point of view, it makes sense for Ruf to head to Korea for that $1.1 million, either to spend a few years as a regular there or to change the impression an American big league team may have of him.