The Phillies and right-handed reliever Jose Ruiz have agreed to a minor league contract, reports Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors. He’ll be invited to major league spring training this year and compete for a spot on the roster. Ruiz is repped by the OL Baseball Group.
Ruiz, 29, split the 2023 season between the White Sox — for whom he pitched from 2018-23 — and the D-backs, who acquired him for cash in April after Chicago designated the hard-throwing righty for assignment. He was rocked during the season’s first week in Chicago, yielding nine runs in just 3 2/3 innings, but Ruiz pitched decently with Arizona for much of the season.
In 40 2/3 frames with the eventual NL champions, Ruiz logged a 4.43 ERA with a 19.8% strikeout rate, 9.3% walk rate and 42.4% ground-ball rate. He averaged 96.6 mph on his heater along the way and notched a healthy 12.5% swinging-strike rate against a roughly average 31.5% chase rate on pitches off the plate. He also managed hard contact fairly well in Arizona, with better-than-average marks in exit velocity (88.5 mph) and hard-hit rate (34.4%).
Command was an issue for Ruiz throughout the year, as it has been more often than not in his career. While the 9.3% walk rate he posted with the Snakes was better than his ugly 10.9% career mark, it’s also still higher than the league-wide 8.6%. Beyond that, Ruiz’s command within the zone was lacking, which contributed to the hefty 1.55 home runs he allowed for every nine innings pitched this season.
The D-backs could’ve retained Ruiz through arbitration by adding him back to the 40-man roster, but they instead opted to let him become a free agent, which led the Phillies to pick him up on what amounts to a no-risk commitment. If he’s able to round back into form, he could be controlled for as many as three more seasons. Ruiz’s 2022-23 campaigns don’t stand out, but as recently as 2021 he racked up 65 innings of 3.05 ERA ball over 59 appearances with the ChiSox, striking out 23.2% of his opponents against a more palatable 9.2% walk rate.
Ruiz is out of minor league options, so if the Phillies do add him to the roster at some point, they won’t be able to send him down without first passing him through outright waivers.