Free Agent Pass or Play: Carlos Ruiz – Phillies Nation
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Free Agent Pass or Play: Carlos Ruiz

Would you bring Chooch back for 2014?

We are officially beyond CRUNCH TIME – about 14 hours until the start of Free Agency at 12:01 AM November 5. We at Phillies Nation will take a look at a player who will be able to sign with any team at that time. We will explore potential performance, fit, cost, and feasibility. We continue today with right-handed catcher Carlos Ruiz. And a reminder: you can check out all the “Pass or Play” posts by clicking on the category hyperlink.

Performance

Chooch, 35 on Opening Day 2014, has been among the Majors’ best kept secrets behind the plate for a number of years. Since 2010, only Yadier Molina, Buster Posey, and Joe Mauer have been more valuable according to FanGraphs version of WAR, with Ruiz ranking sixth among catchers in batting average, third in on-base percentage, and 14th in slugging. Ruiz has averaged 416 PA over the last four years, remaining relatively healthy and finding ways to get at-bats even despite his 50-game suspension in 2013. According to FanGraphs, Chooch has saved the Phillies 74.3 runs behind the plate over his career and ranks fifth in the Majors since 2010 in that category.

Fit

Well – this one is kind of silly, isn’t it? Ruiz has had a brief cup of coffee in 2006 before cementing himself as an everyday player for 2007. Since Chooch has been a Phillie, the Phils have won a World Series, gotten to another, and won five division titles in his seven years of full-time playing.

Yet, that may be part of the issue: Chooch is three to four years, or six in the case of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, older than most of his free agent competition. While Chooch may be the most comfortable option, he may not be the best fit. Chooch has shown little signs of decline if you consider 2012 a positive outlier in his career yet, the question has to be asked: would you give a multi-year deal to a catcher who will be 35 on Opening Day of year one of the contract?

Cost

Both FanGraphs crowdsourcing project and MLB Trade Rumors have Chooch estimated at a $15-16 million contract over two years. This cost is not prohibitive to the Phillies.

Feasibility

This one is completely feasible: the Phillies need a catcher and would prefer a right-handed hitter. And not so coincidentally, Chooch is both. The tricky part in this one is “the field” – there are a lot of other suitors for catchers for 2014 and nobody quite knows where anyone else will wind up. As we learned earlier today, the Rockies are interested in Chooch, as well possibly the Rays, Yankees, Blue Jays, White Sox, and Rangers according to MLBTR.

Verdict: A Very Soft Play

If I were the Phillies, I would offer a deal I felt reasonable to Chooch, which would be about two years, $10 million. If Chooch is interested, he will come back. If not, and if I believed I had a shot at one of the younger, perhaps better catchers, such as Brian McCann or Saltalamacchia, I would move on quickly.

24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Jael

    November 4, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Yes I will ruiz he is the best for Philadelphia the fans love him just like he love us and what to be a phillies for life.
    Ppl will hate you for ruiz lave phillies and Philadelphia so as a fan of phillies keep him what u did to Michael young was not right he was the best player and wt did you get out of that there gave Michael young to the Dodgers?

    • Manny

      November 4, 2013 at 10:42 am

      Trading M Young was a salary dump, which also allowed Asche to play full-time. Thanks to that we have, at the very least, partially addressed our 3rd base problem for 2014.

      • Brass Villanueva

        November 4, 2013 at 11:36 am

        Michael Young was one of the worst everyday players in baseball in 2012 & 2013. Just sayin’.

  2. CS

    November 4, 2013 at 11:02 am

    I wouldn’t be shocked to see Ruiz stay. But will be very interested to see who replaces Ruiz if he walks. Ian what do we know about the potential free agent cuban I’ve heard about.

    • Ken Bland

      November 4, 2013 at 12:07 pm

      I don’t see how you can say you won’t be shocked to see Ruiz stay, They’ve had an eternity to reup with him, and haven’t. He’s got to cost 5-8 mil more to keep now that he’s so close to an open market. It just reaks of Ruben having his mind made up about who he wants, and thus going after the guy with the vengance he did Raul and Papelbon. A course alternate of that is what my shock is geared toward.

      If Chooch does sign back with the club, who knows if we’ll find out about why it took so long, but it’d be interesting.

      I just don’t see how anyone can expect his return at this point.

      • George

        November 4, 2013 at 2:33 pm

        It seems quite likely to me that it could very well be Ruiz who hasn’t signed, not Amaro who hasn’t offered. Players generally do like to postpone signing until they weigh all the other offers.

      • Ken Bland

        November 4, 2013 at 3:23 pm

        In early September, Ruiz, in what seemed nonchalant terms (as much liberty as there is in a person guessing tone off a written quote) that the Phils had not made him an offer. Amaro, in that same time frame was quoted as saying that the club might talk contract before the year was up, but would most likely wait it out.

        The Amaro quote was quite similar to what his words were a month previously in the Daily News. In the ensuing month, Ruiz’s play did little, if anything to hurt his marketability. And the price would seem to have gone up more since, if for no other reason than we’re closer to free agency, and Jared Saltalamachia didn’t exactly help his free agency with his WS.

        One never knows what makes a person tick, but if I were to pass judgment on Ruiz, and trusted the enjoyment he’s expressed about his time here, it seems like if the Phils offered him a marketable sum, maybe 7 mil for 2 years, went the extra step and added a 3rd year pretty attainable option, he’d have signed by now. Maybe it’s 8 mil, but there’s a range to go by.

        So my guess remains the tortoise here is more, if not a lot more, Phils than not.

        There’ll be no debate on this next note, because I don’t care enough to research it even if I knew how, but the point made with these words ” Players generally do like to postpone signing until they weigh all the other offers” .doesn’t ring true to me. For sure, there’s some degree of balance in that, but I think more than enough guys, given a choice, would prefer avoiding free agency. In part, it’s reflected in guys like Verlander, Hamels, Weaver, Wainwright avoiding free agency by signing before they could test the waters. Some, like Victorino, had little choice. So I think the word generally is totally out of place in drawing a conclusion one way or another, but maybe especially toward the inclination of the insecurity of free agency. By and large, I consider the type language expressed by guys like Hamels and Lee, who did in 1 case, and kinda almost did in another to be as much negotiation ploy as anything else..

        I’ll stand by my Ruz guess and if I’m wrong, so be it. If the Phils wanted him, he’d be signed by now.

      • George

        November 5, 2013 at 9:27 am

        I was only pointing out that you are speculating. And you still are. If Amaro said he’d wait out the season, that doesn’t mean he didn’t make an offer immediately following.

        Negotiations take time. In my opinion, nothing can be read into why that happens. There are way too many parameters in any contract to make it happen overnight, and there are always statements from either side that sound like little more than BS.

  3. Jael

    November 4, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Have to look at this michael young gat the same thing he was on the phillies no played time .but ruiz is the best he need to stay if the phillies and I do love Asche he good player what I sayed why do we have to see the good player’s go and see the bad player’s

  4. Jaron B

    November 4, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    “A Very Soft Play” = Harsh. I’d say give him two years, $16MM. PLAY, PLAY, PLAY!!!

  5. Joe

    November 4, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Keep chooch we need that right hand and if Sandberg can keep him hitting like he did in August/September he’ll be one of the best again. Players didn’t look alive with Charlie, now we have a younger skipper and a bench coach who is also his best friend. I have a feeling this team is gonna mold great with our new staff. Also not too much a fan of salty, he doesn’t handle the position as good as Ruiz.

  6. Jimbo Jones

    November 4, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Bring Chooch back. Both parties involved should be interested. Chooch is loyal and should be a Phillie for life. If Tommy Joseph had remained healthy this past year we may be talking a different story, but chooch shouod be brought back for2014 for the team and 2015 to help season the next future catcher of the Phills. As long as it’s not a Sal Fasano prodigy we are ok.

  7. lefty

    November 4, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    IMO-This is the toughest of the decisions for me. For many reasons, Carlos will always be one of my all time favorite Phillies. So it’s difficult for me to admit that I think it’s time to move on, but my less emotional – more practical side says it is. Catching is a young man’s game, and our old friend Chooch is no longer a young man.
    Pass,- but deep down I’d be happy if they keep him.

    • Jay

      November 4, 2013 at 7:27 pm

      I agree- although Doc is mine- so sad but time to move on

  8. schmenkman

    November 4, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Just a note on the article reporting that the Rockies are interested in Chooch. In that article, author Troy E. Renck says:

    “He has performed well in the clutch (a career .447 on-base percentage with two outs and runners in scoring position).”

    He’s right, Ruiz has 403 PAs with 2 outs and RISP, and has hit .281/.447/.400 (.847 OPS) in those situations.

    What’s interesting about that is that it includes 40 intentional walks from his days spent in the 8th spot. Excluding those IBBs would change his line to .281/.386/.400 (.786), which is still pretty good, but a bit less impressive.

    • Ken Bland

      November 4, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      I’d bet good money (play money, of course) that if you made Renck aware of that information changing fact, he’d appreciate it, and make his readers aware of it.

      He’s a very fair, people appreciative guy. Most writers seem to connect with the public well, he, more than most it seems. I’ll pass on how Ruiz’s agent would feel about the added exposure that might result to the more realistic quality of the stat.

      • schmenkman

        November 4, 2013 at 3:55 pm

        Good point, I tweeted him.

  9. Rune Duren

    November 4, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    I say 2 year around 15-17 mil. definite play. He can work with Rupp.

    • Hogey's Role

      November 4, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      I agree with if he stays I want him to teach rupp… I would offer him 2 years for 10 million with some incentives but maybe max the deal out at 14 million total if he walks, so be it

  10. Chuck A.

    November 4, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    One year as the primary catcher and the second as not really a back-up but less playing time as the younger guys get closer to full-time duty. He’d be a GREAT tutor! I would imagine that he would maybe be open to a 2 year, 16 MM deal.

    Definitely NO to McCann – too expensive and he’s really better suited for the AL so he can DH at some point.

    And I’m not big on Salty, either. He may be younger but he’ll also command a multi- year deal that I’m not sure is worth signing him to.

    • Mike B.

      November 4, 2013 at 9:15 pm

      Agreed. Pass on both Salty and McCann. Two years for $10-$12 million seems reasonable to me.

  11. George

    November 5, 2013 at 11:48 am

    I think Ruiz is the catcher who fits the Phils needs the best. McCann is a lefthanded hitter whose ability to hit lefties seems to be declining, and Saltalamachia, though a switch hitter, doesn’t hit lefties particularly well. All the others available aren’t particularly good or are as old or older than Ruiz. McCann and Salt will also have numerous suitors who will likely out- bid the Phils, anyway.

    The team needs righthanded bats and they need a catcher. “A very soft play” is way less than what should be done, or the Phils will wind up with a rookie who isn’t really ready, someone like Quintero, or both.

  12. Schmotzy311

    November 5, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Since the start of ’09 Ruiz has a war (bbr) than McCann and any other free agent. It would be foolish not to sign him he can start next year with rupp backing him up and rupp and can take the reigns in 15 with Ruiz to mentor and back him up.

  13. James DeCarlo

    November 7, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    If Ruiz goes, I will leave the ranks of a Phillie Fan.

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