The Mets have acquired first baseman/left fielder Darin Ruf from the Giants for third baseman J.D. Davis according to SNY’s Andy Martino. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Giants also picked up southpaw Thomas Szapucki and A-ball pitchers Nick Zwack and Carson Seymour in the trade.
At the risk of stating the obvious, the trade suggests the Mets think Ruf can help them more this year than Davis, as both are bat-first right-handed hitters. Ruf, who recently turned 36, continues to serve as a lefty-masher this year. He’s got a 155 wRC+ in 337 plate appearances against southpaws since returning from KBO in 2020, which ranks fourth in all of MLB. Ruf actually succeeded against righties as well in 2020-21, but has struggled against them this year. He’s earning $3MM on the season, of which about $1MM remains. He also has a $3.5MM club option for 2022 with a $250K buyout. Ruf and fellow new acquisition Daniel Vogelbach make for an excellent platoon at designated hitter for the Mets.
Davis, 29, is under team control as an arbitration eligible player for both the 2023 and ’24 seasons. Though not known for his glove, unlike Ruf, Davis is capable of playing third base. Since coming over from the Astros in a January 2019 trade, Davis has posted a 125 wRC+ for the Mets in 1,100 plate appearances. He hasn’t shown a significant platoon split in that period, and has flashed eye-popping Statcast metrics at times. This year, however, Davis has posted just a 102 wRC+ for the Mets in 207 plate appearances and hasn’t been drawing many starts of late. Davis became particularly expendable with the Mets’ signing of Eduardo Escobar back in November plus the acquisition of Vogelbach. Davis played in 140 games for the Mets in 2019, but has played in only 195 games since 2020 due to injuries.
In Szapucki, the Giants get a lefty with a pair of big league appearances to his name. Szapucki has mostly operated as a starter in the minors, posting a strong 21.6 K-BB% in 64 Triple-A innings this year. Prior to last season, Baseball America rated him as a 45-grade prospect, saying he can “land three pitches for strikes,” and needed to recover his velocity after spending 2020 at the Mets’ alternate site. Szapucki has indeed done so, working at 90.9 miles per hour in his lone 2021 MLB appearance but pitching at 95.1 in a brutal May 25th outing at San Francisco in which he surrendered nine earned runs while recording only four outs. Apparently Giants brass liked what they saw in that outing, despite their hitters beating up on Szapucki with four home runs.
Zwack, a 24-year-old southpaw, moved to High-A in May and has excelled with a 22.8 K-BB%. A 17th round pick in 2021 out of Xavier University, it remains to be seen if Zwack can sustain his success when facing opponents closer to his own age. Seymour, a 23-year-old righty, moved into the Brooklyn Cyclones’ rotation around the same time as Zwack. With a 25.0 K-BB% rate, he’s been successful as well aside from the longball. Seymour was drafted by the Mets in the sixth round in 2021 out of Kansas State.