SAN FRANCISCO – Trading Darin Ruf continues to pay dividends for the Giants.
On Saturday, the Giants signed Ruf to a minor league contract and will pay him only the league’s minimum salary after he was released by the Mets on April 2.
“We love Darin,” said Giants manager Gabe Kapler. “Obviously we have a lot to do with him. With (injured outfielders) Mitch Haniger and Austin Slater needing some time here and no time frame for them to actually go out on rehab assignments at this point, no specific date, it’s a good option for us to have some right-handed stroke depth in Triple-A.”
Ruf was a key part of the Giants’ offense against left-handed pitchers from 2020 until last August when they traded him to the Mets for JD Davis and pitching prospects Carson Seymour, Thomas Szapucki and Nick Zwack.
But Ruf struggled with the Mets, batting just .152 with a .413 OPS in 74 at bats. The first baseman/designated hitter was suspended last week after the Mets decided to keep speedster Tim Locastro on their Opening Day roster instead of Ruf.
Since he was unclaimed on waivers, the Giants were able to sign him to a minor league deal and pay him the league minimum. The Mets are on the hook for Ruf’s $3 million salary in 2023 and a $250,000 buyout on his $3.5 million option for 2024.
Asked if the Giants are proud of winning that trade, Kapler said, “I don’t think we necessarily think about it that way.”
In parts of three years with the Giants, Ruf hit .248 with an .814 OPS and 32 home runs in 833 at bats. His .937 OPS against left-handed pitching during that span ranked sixth in MLB between Jose Ramirez and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
The Giants hope they can rediscover some of that magic if they need another right-handed bat at some point this season.
“We will probably have some conversations with Darren and get a good sense of what he went through in New York in the second half of last year and also what he went through in spring training this year,” Kapler said. “We want to talk to Darren about that before jumping to any conclusions.”
The Giants also made some roster changes on Saturday morning to address their catching situation.
Roberto Perez, who was removed from the Giants’ 3-1 loss to the Royals on Friday after a fumble to second base, was placed on the 60-day injured list with a right rotator cuff strain that left the 34-year-old – old backstop indefinitely.
“I feel sorry for Roberto,” Kapler said. “He’s worked so hard to get to this point. It’s a challenge for our club to replace his experienced presence… He’s been a great teammate for all of us and it’s significant enough to put him on the 60-year mark immediately. days IL, which is disappointing for the organization and also for Roberto.”
At least catcher is a position where the Giants have some depth.
The Giants called Austin Wynns, who had a .671 OPS ahead of them last year, from Sacramento. Wynns will serve as a much-needed right-handed bat for the Giants as they expect to face a handful of left-handed pitchers in their upcoming games against the Dodgers and Tigers.
Former No. 2 overall pick Joey Bart (back strain) was sent out on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento and will catch on Saturday and serve as the designated hitter on Sunday before the Giants reevaluate his status.
Two-time All-Star Gary Sanchez, signed to a minor league deal last week, will play his first game Saturday with Sacramento as the DH. He will then catch on Sunday. The Giants want to see how he performs in the minors before making any decisions. Reportedly, he can terminate his contract if he is not on the big league-roster before May 1.
“Wynns is a really good option for us right now,” Kapler said. “Sanchez could become an option for us in the near future. We’ll see how he does, how he performs at Triple-A and how his body reacts. Right now Austin is on our roster, we’re happy to have him on our roster is up and we look forward to giving him the opportunity to perform.”
— Catcher Blake Sabol started Saturday with southpaw Sean Manaea on the mound. This is believed to be the first Samoan battery in MLB history. While both players were born in the United States, Sabol’s mother was born in Western Samoa while Manaea’s father was born in the eastern islands of American Samoa as detailed by The Athletic during spring training.
— The Giants went in on Saturday and have not lost two straight home games since 2015 to open a season.
– JD Davis took third for the second time this season as the Giants prepared to face Royals right-hander Brady Singer. The Giants have not used the same three-hitter in consecutive games this season. Davis, Thairo Estrada, David Villar, Wilmer Flores and Joc Pederson are all stirred.