Report: The Royals have had internal discussions about Ryan Howard

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It’s no secret that the Phillies would like to turn the page on Ryan Howard, but finding a match in a trade has understandably been a challenge. However, Bob Nightengale of USA Today hears that Howard’s name has surfaced in internal discussions with the defending American League Champions. That’s right, he’s on the radar with the Royals.

The Royals aren’t about to rip up their payroll, and David Glass suddenly isn’t about to go all Steinbrenner on us, but if the Phillies are willing to eat most of the contract, the Royals have had internal discussions about acquiring him.

They believe he just might be the perfect fit to replace Billy Butler as their everyday DH, and considering they didn’t have a single player hit 20 homers or drive in 75 runs last year, he may be the power threat the Royals need to return to the World Series.

It’s hard to believe that Howard and the phrase “perfect fit” could be used in the same sentence at this point, but here we are. Even if the Phillies cover the majority of his remaining contract ($60 million if you include his $10 million club option for 2017), Howard’s upside is limited. No longer suited for the daily rigors of playing first base, the 34-year-old is a designated hitter on the downside of his career. While Howard had 23 home runs and 95 RBI this past season, he batted just .223 and his .690 OPS was 119th among 146 qualified batters in MLB. He has an OPS+ of 98 over the past three seasons.

Giants sign Darin Ruf to minor league contract

Darin Ruf
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The Athletic’s Jayson Stark reports that the Giants have signed 1B/OF Darin Ruf to a minor league contract.

Ruf, 33, played parts of five seasons in the majors with the Phillies from 2012-16, enjoying occasional offensive success. He spent the last three seasons in the KBO League in South Korea with the Samsung Lions, reigniting his career. Ruf hit an aggregate .313/.404/.564 with 86 home runs and 350 RBI over 1,756 plate appearances.

Ruf joins an ever-increasing list of players whose major league careers fizzled out, then found new life overseas — Eric Thames and Miles Mikolas are a couple of examples. Ruf will hope to prove himself as a big leaguer once more in spring training with the Giants.