The Mariners officially announced they have acquired veteran catcher Carlos Ruiz in a trade with the Dodgers. Seattle sent left-handed pitcher Vidal Nuno to Los Angeles in exchange.
PHOENIX — The Mariners will have a veteran catching presence on their 25-man roster to go with Mike Zunino. On Monday afternoon, the team officially announced the acquisition of catcher Carlos Ruiz in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In exchange, Seattle sent left-hander Vidal Nuno to Los Angeles. General manager Jerry Dipoto called Ruiz “a perfect fit” for the Mariners in 2017.
The workings of the deal broke on Sunday evening with Major League Baseball general managers’ meetings slated to begin Tuesday morning in Scottsdale.
“First and foremost, Carlos brings us a veteran presence with outstanding leadership qualities and a winning pedigree,” general manager Dipoto said. “His combination of strong on-base skills, situational awareness and game-calling ability are a welcome addition to the Mariners.”
Ruiz, who turns 38 on January 22, hit .264 with eight doubles, three homers and 15 RBI with a .364 on-base percentage in 62 games with the Phillies and Dodgers. The .365 on-base percentage was fourth highest for catchers with at least 200 plate appearances.
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He will serve as the back-up to Zunino.
“As a planning device, I’d envision a normal 65 percent to 35 percent split if both players are healthy and playing like they can,” Dipoto said.”
The Mariners will pick up Ruiz’s $4.5 million club option for the 2017 season. When the team decided not to exercise the club option for Chris Iannetta in 2017 and outrighted back-up Steve Clevenger, who opted for free agency, there was a need to add some legitimate catching depth. Their only other option for the back-up role would’ve been light-hitting Jesus Sucre. Ruiz more than serviceable and could assume the starting role if Zunino struggles at the plate.
“Our hope was that when we did not pick up Chris’s option to take a look at different possibilities,” Dipoto said. “I had a couple of conversations with (Dodgers GM) Farhan Zaidi about him because he was such a good fit. The other alternative was always going back and re-engaging with Chris. The rest of the market didn’t appeal to us as much as Carlos did. We were willing to make a move from a player trade perspective to make it happen.”
Nuno made 55 relief appearances with the in 2016, posting a 1-1 record with a 3.53 ERA in 58 2/3 innings pitched. He was a useful relief arm because of his ability to pitch often and in multiple innings situations. Nuno was arbitration eligible this season and projected to make approximately $1.1 million next season.
Ruiz spent the bulk of his career — 11 seasons — with the Phillies. He was named to the National League All-Star team in 2012 and helped lead the Phillies to five straight postseason appearances from 2007-2011, including a Worlds Series title in 2008. He waived his no-trade clause in July and was dealt to the Dodgers, where he hit .278 with two doubles and three RBI in 14 games.
In 1,083 big league games, Ruiz posted a career .266 batting average with a .352 on-base percentage. He’s also been successful vs. left-handed pitching in his career with a .276 batting average and .811 on-base plus slugging percentage.
“He gives you a good at-bat and he’s been exceptional against lefties,” Dipoto said.