The Philadelphia Phillies continue to be the most active team early in free agency, re-signing free agent catcher Carlos Ruiz to a 3 year, $26 million deal that includes a $4.5 million club option for 2017. This is on the heels of their inking free agent Marlon Byrd to a two year deal.
Ruiz was a player who was talked about as a possible target for the Rangers in free agency, though there was thought his value would be down because of his age (Ruiz turns 35 in January), suspension last year for amphetamines, and generally down season (he put up a .268/.320/368 line in 2013, compared to his .292/.380/.448 slash line for 2009-12). The club option at $4.5 million looks attractive until you remember that Ruiz will be 38 in 2017.
As a point of reference, Jon Heyman predicted 2 years, $16 million for Ruiz, with the others in his piece predicting one year at either $6.75M or $8M. FanGraphs predicted 2 years, $16.8 million. Jim Bowden predicted 2 years, $16 million.
I'm not surprised the Rangers would have passed on Ruiz at this price, particularly with Geovany Soto already locked up. This is a high beta signing -- the Phillies will look brilliant if last season was an aberration and Ruiz hits like he did from 2009-12, and will look awful if Ruiz continues to decline.
As a point of reference, since WWII, there have been 30 seasons where a catcher has had at least 2 bWAR in his age 35 or later seasons, with 6 of those seasons coming from Carlton Fisk.