Signing Carlos Ruiz to a 3 year/$26 million contract is another clear overpay, but the pile Ruben Amaro just stepped in was nearly unavoidable.
There are plenty of reasons to knock this deal.
Ruiz is 35. That is old. Corey Seidman pointed out on CSNPhilly.com that since 1965, only two catchers 35 or older have hit at least .290 in 400-plus plate appearances: Jorge Posada and Carlton Fisk. Only Fisk, Posada, Mike Piazza and A.J. Pieryznski had an .800 OPS after that age.
The contract is also significantly costlier than most predicted. MLB Trade Rumors predicted a 2 year/$14 million contract and the Rockies were only willing to offer 2 years and $15 million. The Phillies appear to be the only team willing to guarantee a third year. It also easily tops Russell Martin’s two-year, $17 contract from the Pirates last winter.
Crashburn Alley found that in the previous three seasons, only one catcher (John Buck) has earned a contract of three years or more, seven were gives two-year contracts, and everyone else received a one-year deal.
Their options were limited. The Phillies have nobody in their farm system qualified as a starting catcher, and their limited budget essentially eliminated Brian McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia as possibilities. AJ Pierzynski is a lefty the Phillies do not need who is actually older than Ruiz. Dioner Navarro would be much cheaper, but he is also a significant downgrade. That left Chooch.
This was in no way a win for the Phillies, but it wasn't a complete debacle, either. It gives the Phillies a quality defensive catcher who works well with pitchers and can hit a little. While Amaro added an older player again and overpaid again, given their options it was not the most egregious move he could have made.
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