Unless you’re a Blue Jays fan, a moderately serious fantasy player or are some sick obsessive who reads every single box score every day [cough, cough], Randy Ruiz probably hasn’t even crossed your radar screen. Sure, the Jays’ part-time DH and backup first baseman came on really strong late last year, but he hasn’t hit for anything in 2010 and at 32 isn’t anyone’s idea of a prospect. Not surprising at all, then, that he was released today.
More surprising is the fact that, on the very same day, he signed a contract with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan’s Pacific League. What timing that the Golden Eagles’ scout was there to thrust that contract in Ruiz’s hands mere minutes after the Jays gave him his walking papers!
Unless it really wasn’t fortuitous timing. Unless, like Toronto Star reporter Morgan Campbell, you believe that this was all done beforehand, with Ruiz making his deal with Tohoku Rakuten earlier this month when he missed a couple of games against the Indians for “personal reasons.” Campbell believes that Ruiz was talking to the Japanese team then, most likely with the Jays’ blessing.
If that’s the case, good for the Jays for making it easier for Ruiz to land on his feet. It’s obvious that he doesn’t have much of a role with this team, so doing what they can for him — if that’s what happened — was right sporting of them.
The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.
Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.
The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.
In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.