Update: According to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, Ruiz will receive $8.85 million over three years with a $5 million option for a fourth year.
6:04 pm: Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that the Phillies have signed catcher Carlos Ruiz to a three-year, $9 million contract, pending a physical.
Ruiz, who turned 31 on Friday, was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. He asked for $2.5 million and was offered $1.7 million from the Phillies when arbitration figures were exchanged Tuesday. Ultimately, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. elected to buy out Ruiz’s arbitration years, exactly like he did with outfielder Shane Victorino and right-hander Joe Blanton last week.
“Chooch” batted .255/.355/.425 with nine home runs and 43 RBI with the Phillies last season, and was red-hot after the All-Star break, slamming six homers and posting an 862 OPS over his final 156 at-bats. The second half success translated to the postseason, where Ruiz hit .341 with two homers and nine RBI.
Ruiz is expected to be the everyday backstop for the Phillies this season, with the newly-inked Brian Schneider serving as his primary backup.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.