The Diamondbacks announced that they have reinstated right-hander Merrill Kelly from the injured list, with righty José Ruiz designated for assignment in a corresponding move. Their 40-man roster count drops to 39.
Ruiz, 28, began the year with the White Sox but was lit up for nine earned runs in 3 2/3 innings before being designated for assignment. That was obviously a small sample and Ruiz had fared better in prior campaigns. Coming into this year, he had a 4.17 ERA in 174 appearances, striking out 23% of opponents and keeping the ball on the ground at a 40.6% clip, though his 11.1% walk rate was on the high side.
The Diamondbacks decided to ignore the early results from this year and bank on that track record, sending cash considerations to the White Sox in order to skip the waiver queue. Ruiz has gone on to throw 40 2/3 innings for the Snakes this year with a 4.43 ERA, along with a 19.8% strikeout rate, 9.3% walk rate and 42.4% ground ball rate. That’s obviously an improvement over how his season started but still fairly uninspiring overall. He’s also been struggling of late, with an 8.22 ERA in 7 2/3 innings since the calendar flipped to July, which surely helped to nudge him off the roster. Ruiz is out of options, so the only way for the club to open a spot for Kelly was to designate him for assignment.
The D’Backs will now have one week to trade Ruiz or pass him through waivers. Players with more than three years of service time or a previous career outright have the right to reject an outright assignment and elect free agency, with Ruiz qualifying on both accounts. However, since he has less than five years of service time, he would have to forfeit his remaining salary in order to exercise that right. He and the White Sox avoided arbitration with an agreement for a $925K salary for this season, which is a bit above the $720K minimum this year. In the event he clears waivers, he might decide to accept an assignment to Triple-A Reno instead of leaving money on the table.
Kelly returns to the rotation after missing almost a month due to calf inflammation. He slots in next to Zac Gallen, Ryne Nelson, Tommy Henry and Brandon Pfaadt for now, though general Mike Hazen has stated the club will be looking for upgrades. They’ve recently been connected to high-profile pitchers like Lucas Giolito and Shohei Ohtani, though the next week will determine whether or not they can be successful in those pursuits. The deadline in on August 1.