Mets add Ruf from SF, Givens from Cubs

August 3rd, 2022

WASHINGTON -- Leading up to the Trade Deadline, the Mets harbored interest in a left-handed reliever and a catcher, among other pursuits. They acquired neither on Tuesday, instead striking a more modest pair of deals for platoon bat Darin Ruf and right-handed reliever Mychal Givens. Those two joined previously acquired pieces Tyler Naquin and Daniel Vogelbach as the entirety of New York’s Deadline haul, in terms of Major League pieces.

In the first deal, the Mets replaced their primary right-handed bench bat, J.D. Davis, with Ruf, whom they believe can be more potent in that role. In the second trade, they upgraded the back of their bullpen with Givens, who has been stellar against right-handed batters, but less so versus lefties.

Against a backdrop that saw the division-rival Braves and Phillies upgrade significantly, the Mets will have to hope it’s enough.

“It stands out that we were able to make our club better today, both offensively and on the run-prevention side,” general manager Billy Eppler said. “So I just focus on us. We made the moves that we felt were in the best interest of this organization.”

Ruf, 36, has a long history of mashing left-handed pitching, including an .887 OPS against southpaws this season. He is capable of playing first base and both corner outfield positions, though with the Mets, he’s likely to serve mostly as a DH complement to newly acquired lefties Vogelbach and Naquin.


Mets receive: INF/OF Darin Ruf
Giants receive: INF J.D. Davis, LHP Thomas Szapucki, LHP Nick Zwack, RHP Carson Seymour

“It’s good for everybody,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s one of those things that I think will work out for both clubs. … Obviously, [Ruf] has quite a background and a history of handling left-handed pitching.”

“In my situation, going to New York is very exciting because they’re a great team,” Ruf said. “They’ve had a great year. They have huge aspirations for the rest of the year. I’m thankful and lucky to be a part of that."

Davis, 29, had filled the Mets’ righty bench bat role for the first four months of the season, but he slashed just .238/.324/.359 in 207 plate appearances. That led New York to seek an upgrade before the Deadline, albeit at a cost. The Mets recently began grooming Szapucki for a possible future relief role, while Zwack and Seymour intrigued the organization as 2021 Draft picks.

There’s also no guarantee that Ruf will be more productive than Davis down the stretch.

“It’s a little unfortunate,” said Davis, a California native who was never able to replicate his breakout 22-homer season for the Mets in 2019. “I’ve got to say goodbye. … But at the same time, selfishly a little bit, I’m excited for the opportunity to play over there, especially so close to home.”

In a separate deal, the Mets acquired Givens from the Cubs for Minor League pitcher Saúl González, a 22-year-old who was playing for Single-A St. Lucie and did not rank among MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Mets prospects.

Givens reunites with Showalter, who managed him from 2015-18 in Baltimore. The 32-year-old veteran produced a 2.66 ERA in 40 appearances for the Cubs, though that included some rather extreme platoon splits: a .594 OPS by right-handed batters, but a .751 mark from lefties.


Mets receive: RHP Mychal Givens
Cubs receive: RHP Saúl González

“I’m just happy, excited to contend for a playoff push,” Givens said.

Taken in context, the Mets’ Deadline moves undoubtedly improved the roster, with Naquin, Vogelbach and Ruf expanding Showalter’s lineup options, and Givens fortifying the back end of the bullpen. But the team did not address multiple other problem areas, including its dearth of offensive production from the catcher position and its lack of left-handed relief help.

To address the lefty issue, the Mets spoke to multiple other clubs, but they could not strike a deal despite what Eppler previously referred to as a “robust” relief market including Gregory Soto and Andrew Chafin of the Tigers, Joe Mantiply of the D-backs, Steven Okert of the Marlins and many others who did not change teams. Eppler said the Mets came close to a deal for left-handed relief but ultimately found the prices too high.

The only lefty on the active roster is Joely Rodríguez, who has a 5.72 ERA. The Mets have talked internally about using David Peterson as a reliever later in the season, but for now, he remains a key piece of their starting pitching depth.

As for catching, the Mets expect starter James McCann to return from the injured list on Thursday. The Mets also came close to acquiring a catcher -- not, according to a source, the Cubs’ Willson Contreras, who stayed put in Chicago despite significant rumors that he would move -- but talks fell apart on Tuesday. The Mets will instead rely on their internal options, which does not mean Francisco Álvarez, MLB Pipeline’s No. 1 overall prospect. While Eppler would not rule out a late-season promotion for Álvarez, he said that nothing will happen soon.

“I can only answer for the immediate time,” Eppler said. “I can just tell you that he’s not an option right now.”