The trade that was debated, discussed and fretted about is done.
The Mariners have acquired outfielder Justin Ruggiano from the Cubs in exchange for right-handed reliever Matt Brazis. To make room for Ruggiano on the 40-man roster, reliever Logan Bawcom has been designated for assignment.
“I think he’s a nice fit,” general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “We were in pursuit of an outfielder that can play all three outfield spots. And he can do that. We view this guy as a guy that can certainly hit left-handed pitching. He’s done that in his career. He’s a tough kid. He’s a gamer and wants to win. I think this an addition that we talked about for a while. We finally pulled the trigger.”
Ruggiano was a little surprised, but optimistic.
“I’m definitely excited to be involved in this trade,” he said. “Seattle’s lineup stacks up very well, and they have really good pitching. In a way, it was a surprise, but I’m never really shocked by anything anymore.”
Ruggiano is a nice fit for the Mariners. He hit .281 with a .766 OPS last season in 81 games. Two stints on the DL and season ankle surgery limited his numbers. Zduriencik said the ankle checked out with the Mariners medical staff and Ruggiano will be ready to go when spring training
“He’s fine,” Zduriencik said. “Everything’s been reviewed. He’s in good shape and he’ll be fine.”
Ruggiano hits lefties well. He had an .846 in OPS against lefties in a 92 ABs last season. Here’s his career splits ….
This sure seems like the Mariners are setting up a possible platoon in right field. Zduriencik wouldn’t commit to that.
“I think you talk to him, he’ll say he believes he’s an every day guy,” Zduriencik said. “And I think that’s great. What I think we’ll do is we’ll run him into spring training and he will be in competition to play every day. There are couple of guys that want to compete. I think we’ll just let the chips fall where they may.”
Zduriencik was right.
“I want to be part of that lineup every day,” Ruggiano said. “But I’m here to fill whatever role they want me to fill and help Seattle win some games.”
The team has been interested in Padres outfielder Seth Smith, who is a left-handed bat that hits righties well. It would be a natural, low-cost fit for Seattle. That’s something that could get done if the Padres ever finalize their deals for Matt Kemp and this crazy trade where they try to get Will Myers from the Rays.
“We’ve had a lot of different discussions taking place and will continue to take place,” Zduriencik said. “You just don’t know how things will play themselves out. I think we have competition right now. James (Jones) and Stefen (Romero) certainly have ability, but also a degree of inexperience. Justin brings an element, and we’ll continue to look.”
Brazis was the Mariners minor league reliever of the year this past season. He went 4-1 with 6 saves and a 2.36 ERA (19 ER, 72.1 IP) in 40 relief appearances with High Desert and Jackson last season. The right-hander limited opponents to a .208 average (54×260), while walking 18 and striking out 84. With Jackson he went 1-1 with 2 saves and a 1.64 ERA (6 ER, 33.0 IP) in 17 relief appearances.He’s throws low to mid 90s with movement. But he’s had some command issues dating back to his days at Boston College. He struggled in the Arizona Fall League going 1-0 with a 5.11 ERA (7 ER, 12.1 IP) in 10 relief appearances.