Carlos Ruiz Gets Bought Out

Reportedly, Carlos Ruiz has resigned with the Phillies for three years and nine million dollars, which covers his remaining years of arbitration. Since these are arbitration years, figuring out what the Phillies are paying for isn’t as straightforward as in a free agent signing. The standard way of accounting for arbitration years is to assume that the team will be paying 40, 60, and 80 percent of the player’s actual value. So, spreading the contract evenly over three years and dividing the three million dollar annual salary by 40, 60, and 80%, the “real value” of the contract is about $16.3 million. While earlier in the off-season I assumed something like $4-$4.4 million a win, the market has been settling at closer to $3.5 million. Assuming slight yearly salary inflation and a half-win-a-season decline, the Philadelphia is paying Ruiz as if he’s 1.8 WAR player for 2010. Let’s see if Ruiz stacks up.

Offensively, Ruiz had a good 2009, especially for a catcher, hitting .255/.355/.425 for a .337 wOBA. That was by far his best recent year; Ruiz had a .319 wOBA in 2007 and .279 wOBA in 2008. Moreover, despite this being the first year he was elgible for arbitration, Ruiz just turned 31, an age at which most players are pretty clearly on the decline slope, even if they aren’t dealing with the wear-and-tear of catching. CHONE projects Ruiz for .255/.337/.401, or 8 runs below average per 150 games in context-neutral linear weight, while on his FanGraphs player page you get his nominal linear weights (wOBA/wRAA) at a bit below average (.327 wOBA). ZiPS is less optimistic: .251/.341/.391, which I translate to .324 wOBA, about -2/150. Marcel says: .313 wOBA, -8/150. The fans are the most optimistic: .259/.358/.401, .333 wOBA, +3/150. And, just for the heck of it, my own “system” (I’m wavering between FREDO, GOB, and DAYTON) agrees with Marcel: .313 wOBA, -8/150. That’s a lot of messy numbers! Let’s take something in the middle and call Ruiz a -4/150 hitter.

Defensively, the Fans Scouting Report had Ruiz as one of the better catchers in 2009, and my own defensive rankings of 2009 catchers also place him near the top at +5.4 runs. CHONE and the Fans both project Ruiz for about +3/150 in 2010.

A proper WAR estimate involves playing time. While most of the linear weights/runs figures I’ve given above are prorated for 150 games, Ruiz is a catcher, he’s 31, and he’s never played more than 117 games in a season. The Fan Projections are particularly useful for this, and have Ruiz projected for 108 games in 2010.

Putting it together, -4 offense, +3 defense, +12 prorated positional adjustment, +20 replacement level, all prorated for 108 games = about a 2.2 WAR player. As we saw above, the Phillies are paying for a 1.8 WAR player, so they got a bit of a bargain, although not as much of a bargain as I initially thought it might be.

Ruiz isn’t Brian McCann or Joe Mauer. Still, while taking arbitration into account lessens the bargain the Phillies are getting, given what teams have been paying for the likes of Bengie Molina, Jason Kendall, and Ivan Rodriguez this offseason, it again illustrates the advantage clubs accrue when they have “merely” average-ish players under club control.




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Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.


28 Responses to “Carlos Ruiz Gets Bought Out”

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  1. Joe R says:

    For someone that “rejects” SABRmetrics, it SEEMS (so far) that Amaro makes pretty logical business decisions.

    Albeit he inherited the best roster in his league.

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    • NEPP says:

      The Phillies don’t “reject” SABRmetrics. People continually misunderstand their philosophy. They simply don’t rely 100% on it. They rely on first-hand scouting reports and they seem to know what they’re doing when it comes to identifying jewels in the rough.

      For example, Chase Utley was pegged as a utility guy for years. They (their scouting department led by Marty Wolever) snagged Victorino, Werth, Dobbs, for basically nothing.

      They trust their scouts and they have good ones.

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      • The A Team says:

        Werth and Dobbs were Gillick projects, not really the work of the scouting department. The Phillies only ended up with Victorino because the Dodgers declined to pay 25,000 to take him back.

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      • Joe R says:

        Well their scouts did help nab Victorino in the Rule 5. It really is impressive how much of Philly’s talent is either in-house or guys other teams didn’t want.

        6 of their 8 starters fall into that group. Someone’s doing good work when that’s happening.

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      • To me, this ironically makes their decision not to keep Cliff Lee more baffling. I don’t live in Philly and I’m not privy to the general Phillies fan pulse, but if I were a Phillies fan the only way that I could forgive my FO for not keeping Lee is if they win a championship. Even being a runner-up again isn’t good enough.

        As a Tigers fan who saw them field a horrible team from basically the mid 90s into the mid 00s primarily due to bad drafts and development (which started around the time the ’84 championship core began to decline), I fully understand the desire and need to replenish/restock the farm system. However, windows to win the World Series are not large unless you’re the Yankees,and while they got back three good and intriguing prospects they didn’t get back any *CAN’T-MISS BONAFIDE SUPERSTAR* level prospects.

        I suppose only time can tell, but it seemed to me as much as anything that the decision to trade Lee was as much of a no-confidence vote in the scouting department as anything. I think if you truly trust your scouts, then you trust they will get you 2 quality players in the draft (that you would receive next year when Lee is a type A).

        I understand that getting two AA guys and a hi-A guy with roughly 6 or 7 pro seasons between them provides a better ability to project than two college and/or H.S. draft picks, as well as gives you guys who are theoretically closer to the majors, but like I said……if you trust your scouts, you pay them to make the right calls. That has been my impression all along.

        Now in this discussion there seems to be agreement that the Phillies have done pretty well in scouting, and the evidence provided seems sound. So if their scouts are doing a good job……..why not keep Lee and maximize your chance at a title with a Halladay/Lee/Hamels trio at the top of the rotation? These re-ups clearly show that they’re committed to spending now and in the future, and signings of players like Ross Gload seem wasteful when you’re claiming poor on Lee. To my mind, they should’ve gone for it all here and let Lee walk and take the picks.

        Time will tell, but if I personally were a Phillies fan, it’d be championship or bust. And I’m not the type of person who normally thinks in such black/white terms, especially with the huge luck factor that is involved with the MLB playoffs. However it seems that they unnecessarily didn’t go for it all, so to me the only way to validate that is to win it all anyway.

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  2. Rut says:

    Though the Phillies have few catching prospects now, I still wonder why they didn’t just go year to year with Ruiz. I guess the assurance of a set salary is valuable to them going forward.

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    • Joe R says:

      My guess is: $3 million a year for a proven commodity (using the word liberally since he had his best season as a 30 Y/O catcher) for a large market team while built to contend now is a better alternative than hoping one of them pan out. And CHONE like Ruiz to be well worth $3MM in 2010, so I guess I can’t complain about it.

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    • bflaff says:

      It’s not just the assurances of a set salary, although that seems to be huge for the Phillies. It’s also knowing that the position itself is locked up for the next 3 years. Phils can act on future plans without having to hedge in case Ruiz leaves the team, and that kind of confidence is itself pretty valuable.

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  3. Bob R. says:

    Ruiz seems to have good plate discipline. His walk rate is good and improved a bit each year. And he does not strike out a great deal, keeping that good rate pretty steady.

    Which leads me to wonder why Chone thinks he will walk less in 2010. It projects the same BA but a much lower OBP. I don’t see why that would happen.

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    • walkoffblast says:

      CHONE is projecting his OBP .337, for his career he has a .337 OBP.

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    • The A Team says:

      That’s what regression does. And that’s why scouts are necessary. Is Ruiz’ steadily improving plate discipline noise that needs to be regressed, or is it a player adjusting to the league and getting better. It’s tough to tell, I’m of the opinion that he is slowly improving so my own projection has him at around a .345 OBP but he’s easily a regression candidate.

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  4. KIG1 says:

    Just a good decent catcher. Nothing great, but steady.

    Phillies made a good move here.

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  5. NEPP says:

    His defense is probably underrated (despite some great ratings as mentioned above). Another point in his favor: His pitching staff absolutely loves him. He does a great job behind the plate and he doesn’t embarrass himself with the bat. Considering the trades of Jason Jaramillo, Travis D’Arnaud and Lou Marson in the past year, they have nothing left in the cupboard. Their only remaining catching prospect is Sebastian Valle and he has some big question marks on the defensive side of his game. He’s also years away from being ready, if ever.

    This contract gives them the possibility of having a set catcher for the next 4 years (with its very reasonable 4th year option at $5 million).

    Rube did a great job of locking up Chooch, Vic and Blanton to fairly team friendly deals overall.

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  6. gnomez says:

    Anything to come on Matt Stairs? To me, that deal makes no sense for either side. The Padres are overloaded with 1B/COF types, and the last place a veteran looking for one last shot to revitalize his career should ever go is Petco.-

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  7. Blue Jay Ray says:

    The real question is what about RANDY RUIZ?

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  8. schmenkman says:

    Good signing for the Phillies. A couple of things I found interesting:
    - in ’09 he had the 4th highest OPS among the 15 NL catchers with 300+ PAs
    - from Aug 1 through the end of the season, he had the 2nd highest OPS on the Phillies, behind only Howard
    - same is true for Aug 1 through the postseason

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  9. NEPP says:

    Small sample size aside, Chooch has shown up in the playoffs big time the last 2 seasons.

    With Schneider in the fold, Chooch still won’t be a 500 PA catcher but this is a good deal for both sides. One thing is for sure, the Phillies will have good defense behind the plate the next few years.

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  10. pounded clown says:

    Well someone had to pay him something considering that we’ve been calling him Chooch which comes from the Italian word “ciuccio” meaning jackass.

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  11. Bobo says:

    Matt, I think you’ve made a gross oversimplification in your analysis. Assuming that the payments Ruiz recieves over the life of this contract to be annual skews the results.

    You calculated 16.3mm by averaging the contract over 3 years to be 3mm a year. But if the contract is structurerd as such 2mm, 3mm, 4mm, then the total value is only 15mm. You can quibble at the difference but is has an impact. What if the salary is 1.75mm, 3mm, 4.25mm, then the total value is 14.7mm.

    I think these articles are nice, but why don’t you wait for the actual payroll figures to become public before analyzing them. I feel like this site strives for accuracy in so many of their own metrics, yet at other times is guilty of some pretty lazy analysis.

    The Phils are likely getting a good (if not great) deal on Ruiz in 2010, but why they bought out all three years I’m not sure I understand, I’d go year to year and take my chances. Either way, we should probably wait to see the annual figures before deciding who got what.

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  12. Chris says:

    Why don’t you look at this contract now? CHONE and ZiPS were not too accurate….

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