We always knew catcher Carlos Ruiz would at least remain with the Phillies through the 2013 season and, barring the unlikely scenario of a trade, that became official Monday when the club exercised the $5 million option on his contract.
The next question is whether the Phillies will work out a contract extension with their All-Star catcher who turns 34 in January.
Ruiz’ agent, Marc Kligman, said at this point the two sides have not talked about an extension.
“No, I haven’t received phone calls or overtures from the Phillies regarding an extension for a new contract,” Kligman said.
The Phillies, meanwhile, declined options with utility man Ty Wigginton and reliever Jose Contreras. Wigginton, who hit .235 with 11 home runs and 43 RBIs in 2012, will receive a $500,000 buyout rather than his $4 million option. Contreras, who was limited to 34 games the last two seasons because of elbow injuries, will also receive a $500,000 buyout rather than his $2.5 million option.
No announcement was made on third baseman Placido Polanco, although it's a foregone conclusion they will not exercise his $5.5 million option for 2013. He will receive a $1 million buyout.
Kligman said he was not discouraged by the fact that discussions had not yet taken place about an extension for Ruiz.
“I don’t think it’s surprising because they have him under contract for another year,” Kligman said. “You look at Cole Hamels’ situation last year and it’s similar. Going into the offseason, they had not done anything.
“I would assume they are interested in extending their National League All-Star catcher and team MVP. There is plenty of time, but it would be best to have something in place sooner rather than later so Carlos can focus on baseball.”
Amaro said talks about an extension for Ruiz would "probably at some point" take place this offseason.
Ruiz is coming off the best year of his career, which included his first All-Star Game appearance. He established career highs in batting average (.325), doubles (32), home runs (16), RBIs (68) and OPS (.935) despite missing 32 games because of a partial tear in his left foot.
The Inquirer’s Matt Gelb detailed Ruiz’s outstanding season earlier this month.
Because Ruiz did not reach the big leagues until he was 27 and did not become a starting catcher until the age of 28, it will be difficult to find comparable players if and when negotiations begin between the Phillies and Kligman.
Amaro acknowledged that fact earlier this month and Kligman agreed.
“It’s true,” the agent said. “It should help Carlos that (A.J.) Pierzynski had such a good season at 35 (with the Chicago White Sox) and Carlos has a short stocky build that I think ages well. He also didn’t get to the big leagues until he was older, so he doesn’t have the normal wear and tear that some catchers may have had who started the big-league grind at a younger age.”
Kligman, like any good agent, made some other strong arguments on behalf of his client.
“Even if his offensive production goes back to his career norms, you’re still talking about a player with an outstanding on-base percentage and someone who sees a lot of pitchers. And his defensive contributions can turn the tide on winning a World Series for a team. The way he prepares to catch each pitcher is not going to diminish.”
Kligman said Ruiz is scheduled to play for Panama in preliminary-round games of the World Baseball Classic, which begin Nov. 15 in Panama City. The agent said he thought Ruiz would also participate in the World Baseball Classic if, as expected, Panama advances.
“I think it will be a wait-and-see approach in terms of how he feels,” Kligman said. “He played in the last two and I know he has a lot of pride in his country. Carlos wants to come through for his home fans, so there is a good possibility he’s going to play.”
In other news, the Phillies announced that Ruiz and shortstop Jimmy Rollins are finalists for Gold Glove awards.