Mets cut Darin Ruf following failed trade, set Opening Day roster

Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK — Darin Ruf was cut by the Mets as the team set its Opening Day roster, ending his brief stint in New York following a failed trade.

Speedy outfielder Tim Locastro won the final bench spot over Ruf, acquired from San Francisco at the trade deadline last August to provide the right-handed half of a DH platoon with Daniel Vogelbach.

Ruf, however, batted only .152 with no homers, seven RBIs and a .413 OPS in 74 plate appearances over 28 games with the Mets.

Bothered by a sore wrist this spring, he went 5 for 30 (.167) with one RBI, two extra-base hits, nine strikeouts and a .498 OPS in 11 Grapefruit League games.

To get him, the Mets sent J.D. Davis, left-hander Thomas Szapucki and minor league pitchers Nick Zwack and Carson Seymour to the Giants. Davis thrived at the plate in San Francisco last year and Szapucki was moved to the bullpen, where he compiled a 1.98 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 10 relief outings covering 13 2/3 innings.

The 36-year-old Ruf was designated for assignment, meaning the club has seven days to trade, release or send him outright to the minors. He is still due $3.25 million from the Mets.

“It was a trade that didn’t work out. Plain and simple,” general manager Billy Eppler told reporters in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

In other moves, the Mets tabbed veteran right-hander Tommy Hunter for a bullpen role, selecting him to the major league roster after bringing him to camp on a minor league deal.

And with newcomer José Quintana sidelined until at least July following surgery to repair a stress fracture in his rib, fellow left-hander David Peterson won the vacant spot in the rotation over right-hander Tylor Megill, who was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse.

Peterson is scheduled to start the second game of the season in Miami. He will be followed by new addition Justin Verlander, lining up the three-time AL Cy Young Award winner to pitch the home opener April 6 against the Marlins.

Max Scherzer will start the season opener against Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara, last year’s NL Cy Young Award winner. Japanese rookie Kodai Senga and veteran right-hander Carlos Carrasco round out the rotation.

NOTES: RHP Dylan Bundy would get a $2 million contract if added to the 40-man roster. New York signed Bundy to a minor league deal to provide rotation depth. He went 8-8 with a 4.89 ERA in 29 starts for Minnesota last season.

Orioles sign OF Aaron Hicks, put Cedric Mullins on 10-day IL with groin strain

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles signed outfielder Aaron Hicks less than 24 hours after Cedric Mullins went down with a strained right groin.

Mullins went on the 10-day injured list, but the Orioles are hoping Hicks can help defensively in the spacious outfield at Camden Yards. Hicks was released last week by the New York Yankees with more than 2 1/2 seasons left on his contract.

“We had noticed that he was a free agent even before the injury,” Orioles general manager Mike Elias said. “When the injury occurred and it became pretty clear this was going to be an IL, it seemed like a good fit even more so at that time.”

The Orioles are responsible for paying Hicks just $483,871, a prorated share of the $720,000 minimum salary. The Yankees owe him the rest of his $10.5 million salary this year, plus $9.5 million in each of the next two seasons and a $1 million buyout of a 2026 team option.

The 33-year-old Hicks hit just .188 in 28 games for the Yankees this year.

“We have stuff that we look at from a scouting and evaluation perspective,” Elias said. “It’s very different from just looking at the back of a baseball card, and we hope that we get a bounceback from anyone we bring here.”

Hicks batted .216 last season.

“Hopefully that’s a good thing for him,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of the Baltimore deal. “A lot of time here and a lot of good things happened for him here. I know the last couple of years have been a struggle. But hopefully it’s a good opportunity for him and certainly wish him well. Not too well being in our division and a team we’re chasing, but hopefully it’s a really good fit for him.”

Mullins left a loss to Cleveland after he pulled up while running out an infield grounder. Outfielder Colton Cowser – the fifth pick in the draft two years ago – is hitting .331 at Triple-A Norfolk, but he went on the IL in the past couple weeks.

“Certainly he was building a case towards promotion consideration prior to his injury and prior to Cedric’s injury,” Elias said. “We’ll just see where we’re at.”

Hicks was active for the game but not in the starting lineup. Austin Hays, normally Baltimore’s left field, was in Mullins’ usual spot in center.

When the wall in left at Camden Yards was pushed significantly back before last season, it made left field a bigger challenge defensively.

“In this park … you really need two center fielders,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Aaron’s got a lot of center-field experience. Played left field here before also. Brings the defensive aspect and then the switch-hitting.”