The Phillies have reached an agreement with free agent catcher Carlos Ruiz on a three-year, $26 million contract, a source confirmed to the Daily News. The deal includes a club option for a fourth year, meaning the lifelong Phillie play out the rest of his career with the team.
Ruiz is expected to arrive into Philadelphia later this week for a physical, which will make the deal official.
Ruiz, who turns 35 in January, is a .274 hitter in 8 seasons with the Phillies. He’s hit .295 with an .810 OPS in the last three seasons.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. made signing Ruiz a priority this winter.
Less than two weeks ago, Amaro said he wouldn’t let the catching vacancy carry on throughout the winter. Amaro didn’t want to be left without a starting catcher in a free agent market that also included Brian McCann, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and A.J. Pierzynski, among others.
But Ruiz was always the Phillies top target. And the catcher made it clear re-signing with the Phillies was his top choice.
Two weeks after the catcher officially became a free agent, Ruiz and the Phillies have reached a deal.
Ruiz’s contract will pay him $8.5 million over the next three seasons.
The club option for 2017 is worth $4.5 million (or the Phillies can buy it out for $500,000). The deal also includes $500,000 bonuses per season if Ruiz starts 125 games behind the plate.
Ruiz is coming off his worst season since 2009.
Ruiz began 2013 by serving a 25-game suspension for failing a drug test for using Adderall. He then missed another month with a hamstring injury.
A year removed from making his first All-Star game, Ruiz hit .268 with a .688 OPS, five home runs and 37 RBI in 92 games in 2013. In 2012, Ruiz had career highs in hitting (.325), home runs (16), RBI (68) and OPS (.935) in 114 games.
In retaining Ruiz, the Phillies potentially have their starting lineup for the 2014 season with three months still reamining before the Grapefruit League season gets underway in Florida.
Per usual, Amaro has been aggressive in putting his roster together in the first two weeks of free agency. Less than a week after re-signing Ruiz, Amaro plucked outfielder Marlon Byrd off the free agent market with a two-year, $16 million deal.
With Byrd and Ruiz set to earn a combined $16.5 million in 2014, the Phillies now have $139 million committed to 10 players, and that figure does not include arbitration-eligible players (including Kyle Kendrick, Ben Revere and Antonio Bastardo).
If the Phillies hope to stay under the $189 million luxury tax threshold, they have less than $50 million to address the rest of the holes on their roster. In addition to dealing with the aforementioned arbitration-eligible players, the Phillies would like to add at least on starting pitcher and find veteran bullpen help through trades or free agency this winter.