Barking up a new tree
Mets move on from Darin Ruf
Darin Ruf is no longer a Met. Neither are the four players they traded to acquire him to hit .152 with 7 RBIs over 29 games that lost the Mets the division last year. A brutal outcome that will reverberate as long as Thomas Szapucki, J.D. Davis and prospects Carson Seymour and Nick Zwack continue to find life in San Francisco.
Davis doubled his power output in 17 less games with the Giants last season and will play a right-handed platoon role this year; Szapucki is currently sidelined with elbow soreness after showing promise as a reliever following the trade; Seymour and Zwack are working their way through the minors.
We have wondered whether GM Billy Eppler would be willing to swiftly accept defeat on the Ruf trade by cutting ties with the struggling hitter before he had the chance to redeem himself during the course of the upcoming season. The answer is a resounding Yes. Kudos to Eppler for flat-out saying it was a bad trade and being willing to move on.
The Mets will have seven days to try to find a trade partner or Ruf will become a free agent with Mr. Cohen on the hook for his remaining salary (~$3.2 million). As a veteran right-hander with a track record of mashing lefties outside of his time in Queens, there’s a good chance a team will take a flyer on him at the league minimum price.
Blake Zeff will join me in discussing what the Ruf move means about the roster going forward. Before we get into that, let’s catch you up on some other news and notes, including the unsurprising confirmation that David Peterson has earned the fifth rotation spot.
🔄 FIFTH SPOT: After an extremely impressive spring, David Peterson has earned the final rotation spot heading into the season. He will make his season debut on Friday, allowing Justin Verlander to be slotted for the home opener on April 6.
Meanwhile, Tylor Megill will take the ball for Syracuse in their opener in Worcester on Friday. “Yeah, it sucks obviously,” Megill said of being optioned to the minors. “You want to be up there playing. All I can do is just do me right now and just work and be ready when my name is called.”
👍 READY TO GO: Kodai Senga threw 72 pitches in the team’s intrasquad scrimmage on Monday, finally breaking out his famous ghost fork again after putting it on ice (under sheets?) while he recovered from arthritis in his right index finger. He is set to make his major-league debut on Sunday against the Marlins.
😎 OPPORTUNITY: Tim Locastro found out he was making the Opening Day roster two days ago, but was told to keep it quiet until the news became official. He nervously asked Eppler if he could at least tell his wife. When called into a meeting to learn his fate, Locastro felt he had a 50/50 shot of making the club.
⚾️ PLAY BALL: Spring Training is officially over! The Mets will make the two-hour bus ride to Miami to face the Marlins at 4:10 pm on Thursday to kick of the 2023 regular season.
The Mets have moved on from Darin Ruf. We have spent a lot of time discussing the possibility. Now that it actually happened, let’s break down what it means in the near-term and how the team can approach the extra roster spot going forward.
What does this mean in the short-run?
by Jeffrey Bellone
In the near-term, it’s an opportunity for the speedy Tim Locastro. Keeping Ruf became increasingly untenable with Daniel Vogelbach already on the roster. GM Billy Eppler gave the quote of his tenure in summing up how the bench looked with two laggards splitting time at DH.
Adding Locastro to the roster this early in the season could prove particularly worthwhile. With larger bases and pitchers still adjusting to the new pitch clock and limited pick-off moves, the speedy outfielder has an opportunity to flash his speed into extra value.
While several of you jumped into the chat or on Twitter hoping the news of Ruf’s demise was a precursor to the Mets changing course on Brett Baty or Mark Vientos, as I discussed at length yesterday, the decision to option both Baty and Vientos is more about Eduardo Escobar’s role than Ruf’s.