SUNDAY: The Rangers have announced that they’ve outrighted Ruggiano to Triple-A Round Rock.
FRIDAY: The Rangers have designated outfielder Justin Ruggiano for assignment, per a club announcement. His roster spot will go to fifth starter A.J. Griffin, a minor-league free agent whose contract has been purchased.
Ruggiano, who’ll soon turn 34, signed a $1.65MM deal to join the Texas organization over the winter. But Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports on Twitter that the contract includes a minor league split, meaning he would earn at a lower rate at Triple-A — if he isn’t traded and clears waivers. Ruggiano could refuse an assignment, but he’d be sacrificing his rights under that contract since he hasn’t yet reached five years of MLB service time.
The move obviously isn’t a reflection of Ruggiano’s performance to date so much as it is a product of the winter’s moves and early-season pitching needs. The veteran outfielder was signed to provide a part-time option, along with Ryan Rua, to complement the left-handed-hitting Josh Hamilton in left. But an injury to Hamilton and a lagging market for Ian Desmond let to a surprise late signing, reducing the need for Ruggiano. Meanwhile, the club not only now has a need for a fifth starter, but felt the need to keep an eighth reliever on hand after taxing the pen early.