According to reports, the Philadelphia Phillies have decided to re-sign catcher Carlos Ruiz, who has caught the majority of their games each of the last seven seasons. The deal guarantees Ruiz $26 million over three years with a club option for 2017. Ruiz will earn $8.5 million each season from 2014 through 2016, and has a $500,000 buyout if the Phillies decide not to pick up his $4.5 million option in 2017.
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When healthy, Ruiz has been a very good player, especially in 2012 when he hit .325/.394/.540 in 114 games. However, his production fell significantly in 2013. After missing the first 25 games of the season because of a suspension for amphetamine use, Ruiz hit only .268/.320/.368. He missed another 27 games with a right hamstring strain.
If Ruiz can stay healthy and put up numbers similar to his career line of .274/.358/.412, it seems likely that he will be worth the contract. However, there are reasons to be skeptical of his ability to stay healthy and perform at that level. Signing Ruiz also limits the Phillies’ ability to upgrade at the position, which, given the team’s 2013 performance, would seem necessary if they want to be competitive in 2014.
Ruiz’s deal may affect the rest of the catching market. Notable free agent catchers include Brian McCann (profile), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (profile), and A.J. Pierzynski.