Justin Ruggiano leaves Rays, signs with Astros

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UPDATE: One week after declining the option of remaining in the Rays’ system Ruggiano has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Astros.

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Tampa Bay’s 40-man roster housecleaning is costing Triple-A Durham its best players.

This morning the Rays traded reigning Triple-A MVP Russ Canzler to the Indians for cash considerations after designating him for assignment and his Durham teammate Justin Ruggiano chose free agency over an assignment to Triple-A.

Ruggiano has struggled in a few brief stints in the majors, hitting just .226 with six homers and a .621 OPS in 98 games spread over three seasons, but he’s consistently posted strong numbers in the minors and probably deserves a chance somewhere at age 29.

Of course, he’s also spent the past five seasons at Durham, so it’s understandable that Ruggiano would decline an assignment there and take his chances finding work in another organization. Overall at Triple-A he’s hit .289 with 68 homers and an .835 OPS in 476 games, which suggests his best role in the majors would be as a platoon corner outfielder facing primarily left-handed pitching.