SATURDAY: The Dodgers have officially announced that they’ve released Ruf, clearing the way for him to head to Korea.
FRIDAY 9:12am: The Lions have already announced the move, as Jee-ho Yoo of Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reports. Ruf will earn $1.1MM in 2017 — a significant step up from what he’d have earned in the Majors or minors.
8:59am: The Dodgers have sold the contractual rights of infielder Darin Ruf to the Samsung Lions of the Korea Baseball Organization, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com (via Twitter). The move opens a spot on the 40-man roster for the Dodgers, which will go to either Franklin Gutierrez or Chase Utley. (The Dodgers still need to make one more 40-man move to open another spot.)
The 30-year-old Ruf was one of two players that the Dodgers picked up when sending Howie Kendrick to the Phillies this offseason, though that move was more about clearing payroll and a spot on the 25-man roster than anything else. (Darnell Sweeney also came back to the Dodgers in that deal.)
Ruf saw just 89 plate appearances in the Majors last season, hitting .205/.236/.337 in that time. The first baseman/outfielder spent the better part of five seasons on the fringes of the Phillies’ roster, often serving as a right-handed complement to Ryan Howard. In 833 Major League plate appearances, he’s a .240/.314/.433 hitter with 35 home runs.
The move to Korea likely works out well for all parties, as the Dodgers will free a roster spot (and receive a fairly nominal sum from the Lions), while the Lions add a new bat to their lineup. Ruf, meanwhile, should earn considerably more than he’d have earned in the United States playing over in Korea. He was a long shot to make the Dodgers’ roster, and even if he had, he’d have made only a bit more than the Major League minimum as a pre-arbitration player. Foreign players in Korea can often earn salaries in the upper six figures, if not seven figures, and it stands to reason that Ruf will benefit financially from the move.