On Wednesday the Mariners traded for Justin Ruggiano. On Tuesday night, Twitter was abuzz with the idea that the Mariners may be trading for someone like Wil Myers (who would eventually go to the San Diego Padres). If you compare Justin Ruggiano to Myers, he’s disappointing. Myers is an average defender with an above average bat with five years of team control. Ruggiano, by contrast, is an average defender who can handle center in limited duty, but only really hits lefties.
Ruggiano isn’t sexy. There is no baby boom coming on the heels of the Mariners trading for him. He’s 32 years old, and is entering his age 33 season. He’s coming off of a relatively good season, but hasn’t ever figured out how to hit right-handed pitching, and if the Mariners choose to use him in a platoon he’s got potential to be a very valuable piece for the Mariners. What Michael Saunders is as a left-handed hitter, Ruggiano is as a righty. Right handed power has been extremely expensive this offseason – for example, Nelson Cruz and Michael Morse – but Ruggiano cost the Mariners only a 25 year old reliever who hasn’t earned a trip to Tacoma yet.
That pitcher, Matt Brazis, hasn’t been completely unproductive. He’s got a 3.4 K/BB ratio, and posted a 4.67 K/BB ratio in 2014 in 72.1 innings between High Desert and Jackson in 2014. The Mariners bullpen is full, however, and Brazis probably didn’t figure to be part of the big league roster any time soon.
For the Cubs, the team who gave up Ruggiano for Brazis, Ruggiano was relatively expendable. The team has all kinds of soon-to-be-failed infielders who will spend time in the outfield, and Ruggiano will be 33 years old, so he doesn’t figure to be part of the Cubs rebuild.
Ruggiano may not receive 400 plate appearances in 2015. Acquiring him does mean that the Mariners have the kind of flexibility in their outfield, however, that they could trade for a guy like Seth Smith or even deploy Brad Miller in right field occasionally, and replicate and partially atone for what Michael Saunders would have been worth when healthy and in a platoon.