The Mariners Acquire OF Justin Ruggiano from the Cubs for Matt Brazis


The ‘mystery’ player the Mariners were in the process of acquiring has been announced: Chicago Cubs OF Justin Ruggiano.

As a Boston College student, it’s sad to see a fellow eagle leave the Mariners organization, but Justin Ruggiano is a nice pickup for the Mariners, and certainly much better than trading for Dayan Viciedo.

Ruggiano, 32, has played parts of 6 seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, the Miami Marlins, most recently the Chicago Cubs. At most he played 128 games with the Marlins in 2013.

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Because Ruggiano has never played a ‘full’ season in the MLB, it’s hard to give a fair impression of his offensive skills. But breaking it down into a 162 game average, he hits .257/.319/.431 with 18 home runs and 56 RBI per 162 game. He also averages 14 steals per 162.

Justin Ruggiano certainly isn’t a big name trade, but the Mariners traded away a 24-year old reliever who wouldn’t be on the 25-man roster for an outfielder who can be a 4th outfielder/platoon guy in 2015. Ruggiano is also under contract through the 2016 season.

Sep 21, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres left fielder Seth Smith (12) scores on a single by center fielder Cameron Maybin (not pictured) against the San Francisco Giants during the sixth inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

In 443 at-bats against left-handed pitching in his 6-year MLB career, Ruggiano has hit .266/.329/.508 with 20 home runs, 32 doubles, and 2 triples. Ruggiano clubs lefties, which makes him a prime platoon outfield candidate for the Mariners.

With this move, the Mariners shouldn’t be done making deals. They need someone else for the outfield, if not to start in right field than at least to platoon.

If the Padres and Rays are indeed close to a deal that sends OF Wil Myers to the Padres, it’s conceivable that the Mariners could swing a trade to get OF Seth Smith, whose career splits against right-handed hitting is very promising: .277 batting average with a .358 OBP and .481 slugging percentage in 2349 plate appearances.

That right field platoon wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for the Mariners, as each has his power prowess against opposite throwing pitchers.

Seth Smith is owed $6 million in 2015 and $6.75 million in 2016, with a $7 million team option for the 2015 season. Justin Ruggiano is 2nd year arbitration eligible this season, and he made only $2 million in arbitration in 2015.

Overall, this outfield platoon wouldn’t cost the Mariners more than $10 million per season for the next two years, an extremely affordable platoon if they can manage a combined 2.0 WAR between them. Smith is projected for a 1.4 WAR in 2015 by Steamer, while Ruggiano is estimated to be worth 0.4 WAR in 2015.

This is a low-cost depth move by the Mariners, signing Justin Ruggiano. He certainly adds stability to the outfield situation in 2015, and provides a bit of speed too. But he isn’t the whole answer; expect Trader Jack to make another move in the coming days to further shore up the offense on the 25-man roster.