Maybe Darin Ruf Is Answer to Mets Darin Ruf Problem
While the New York Mets have addressed many of their offseason needs, the one area which remains unaddressed is DH. To a certain extent, it seems odd a team so willing to go well beyond the point where teams would consider spending has seen their offseason stall on this front. Certainly, the Carlos Correa drama was part of that.
However, the Mets did see viable options sign elsewhere. Andrew McCutchen purportedly turned down more money from the Mets to return to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Trey Mancini is a Chicago Cub. Adam Duvall just signed with the Boston Red Sox.
This leaves the Mets trying to talk themselves into the next tier of players. Jurickson Profar is a popular target, but he’s not much of a hitter. He does increase the Mets versatility, but he is also not someone who has not thrived in a reserve or part-time role.
Robbie Grossman is an interesting choice. He has good numbers against left-handed pitching, and he does have a good walk rate. Typically speaking, he makes good contact, and he can hold his own defensively. Moreover, he has thrived in a reserve/part-time role. However, he has zero power.
That brings us back to Darin Ruf. What this Mets team was sorely lacking was power, and the Mets gave up way too much to get Ruf to try to help address their power issues. Obviously, Ruf did not do that last season posting a 13 OPS+. He did get one postseason start drawing a walk and a HBP in his one start.
It should be noted Ruf did land on the IL after he was acquired by the Mets with a neck strain. Certainly, it’s possible that impacted his performance. If it did, the hope is he could be back to being a right-handed DH platoon option against left-handed pitching. In his career, he does have a 143 wRC+ against left-handed pitching.
He’s slightly more than a platoon DH option. He can spell Pete Alonso at first base on occasion. That’s important with Alonso needing a break every now and then. He can’t play the outfield everyday in his career, but he can at least play there for a game or an inning or two. This does have some value to the team.
Mostly, he’s simply replaceable. If he doesn’t get the job done, Eduardo Escobar or Mark Canha can easily take over his role. That would require the Mets to play Luis Guillorme as their primary second baseman, but that is something they should be doing anyway. There is also the question of when the Mets are going to call-up Francisco Álvarez or Mark Vientos to at least take over part of this role.
In the end, the Mets have Ruf and are paying him. He has a role which can be easily supplanted by the talent on this team. The upgrades on the free agent market are gone. At this point, the Mets might as well role with him and see if he can rebound.