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Athletics Option Esteury Ruiz – MLB Trade Rumors

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The Athletics announced that outfielder Esteury Ruiz has been optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas. His spot on the active roster goes to infielder Tyler Nevin, who was claimed off waivers from the Orioles yesterday.

Ruiz, 25, has been a key component of the Oakland roster in recent years, having been a notable part of their return in the Sean Murphy trade going into the 2023 season. He missed about a month of last year due to a right shoulder subluxation but otherwise spent the whole year in the majors, getting 497 plate appearances over 132 games. He stole 67 bases in that time but hit just five home runs and walked in just 4% of his trips to the plate. His .254/.309/.345 batting line translated to a wRC+ of 86, indicating he was 14% worse than league average.

This has generally been the profile of Ruiz as a prospect. His blazing speed has always allowed him to provide a level of dynamism on the field but there have always been questions about whether he can hit enough to make use of that. He seemed to take a step forward in 2022, walking in 12.2% of his minor league plate appearances and hitting 16 home runs, which is perhaps why the A’s took a shot on him.

The fact that he didn’t immediately hit the ground running against big league pitching isn’t necessarily an indictment of his future, as many prospects go through an adjustment period after first being promoted. But given that the concerns around his lack of power and on-base ability predate his arrival, it does perhaps raise a least a little concern that the step forward in 2022 was more a fluke than a true sign of change.

Despite his incredible speed, his defense hasn’t been given amazing grades thus far. Outs Above Average has him at just +2 in his career while Defensive Runs Saved has him way down at -22. His -20 DRS last year was the second worst among all outfielders, with only Kyle Schwarber beneath him.

Ruiz started the 2024 season hot, having hit .429/.375/.857, though that’s a tiny sample size of eight plate appearances in three games. He only hit .236/.295/.400 during Spring Training so it’s tough to draw any meaningful conclusions from the good results in three regular season games.

Despite the imperfections in his game, it’s surprising to see Ruiz get sent down rather than stick around for more reps in the majors. The club isn’t expected to be competitive this year and will largely be using the 2024 season to evaluate players to determine the path forward. The majority of the position players on their active roster can be optioned, with J.D. Davis, Abraham Toro and Nevin the only exceptions.

Ruiz has clearly been a priority for the club but will now go get his at-bats at the Triple-A level as the club assesses whether he can find another level at the plate or not. Depending on the length of his stay, it could have repercussions for his path to free agency and/or arbitration. He came into this season with one year and 29 days of service time, meaning that he could come up shy of the two-year mark if he’s down for a significant period of time. Players need six years of service to reach free agency and three years to automatically qualify for arbitration, though some can reach arbitration earlier as Super Two players.

Ruiz was the primary center fielder last year but has been in left field so far this year, with JJ Bleday in center. The departure of Ruiz will open up some left field playing time for guys like Lawrence Butler, Brent Rooker and Nevin.



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