PHILADELPHIA -- So what's up with Chooch?
Carlos Ruiz's name has been mentioned frequently this week at the General Managers Meetings in Orlando, Fla., where teams are searching for catching help. The Phillies still need a catcher, particularly a right-handed-hitting one, and Ruiz still fits the bill.
But the process has been interesting to follow. FOXSports.com reported this week that Ruiz's agent told one team his client has a two-year, $20 million offer on the table. Some speculated it could be the Red Sox. Some speculated it could be the Rockies. In fact, the Denver Post reported that Colorado made a two-year, $15 million offer, but has since moved on. The Rockies had no desire to meet or exceed that price.
Interestingly, nobody considered the Phillies might have made the $20 million offer.
Fresh off handing out a two-year, $16 million contract to outfielder Marlon Byrd, it is hardly farfetched for the Phils. And if one reads between the lines, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is frustrated negotiations with Ruiz have taken so long. He has made a point in the past week to say there are plenty of catchers available, and they will not wait forever for Ruiz. It could be posturing on Amaro's part, especially if he believes the Phillies have made more than a reasonable offer to a 34-year-old catcher (Ruiz turns 35 in January) coming off his worst offensive season in five years.
But Ruiz's agent is looking for a nice payday, understanding this could be Ruiz's final shot at a multiyear deal. He also looks at Ruiz's contributions to the Phils -- World Series champion, clubhouse leader, etc. -- and the fact he has been one of their steadiest hitters in recent seasons, and he thinks his client should be compensated appropriately.
Pirates catcher Russell Martin signed a two-year, $17 million contract before last season. He is four years younger than Ruiz, although his career .745 OPS is 25 points lower than Ruiz's. But Martin's deal, along with the offer from Colorado, offers a glimpse into Ruiz's potential value on the open market.
It will be interesting to see if Ruiz can land a three-year deal (or more).
Ruiz posted a .688 OPS in 2013, his lowest since a .620 mark in 2008, although he had an .829 OPS from 2009-12. He also served a 25-game suspension for using Adderall, a banned stimulant, although FOXSports.com reported Ruiz has received a medical exemption for its use.
A Phillies-Ruiz reunion still seems likely. The Phils need another right-handed bat in the lineup, and Ruiz provides that. Brian McCann hits left-handed, plus he appears to be headed to the American League. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is just 28 and is a switch-hitter, but he also carries an anemic .599 OPS in his career against left-handers.
ESPN.com said the Phillies are considering A.J. Pierzynski if they can't re-sign Ruiz. But he hits left-handed, turns 37 in December, posted a .297 on-base percentage this season and has a career .322 on-base percentage. Philadelphia needs hitters who get on base. Ruiz posted a .320 mark this year, and he has a .358 career mark. He also is above average defensively, respected by Phils pitchers and beloved by teammates in the clubhouse.
The guess here is something gets done.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com.