Darin Ruf had not known any other organization besides the Philadelphia Phillies since we was drafted by the club in the 20th round of the 2009 MLB Draft.
After making his major league debut in 2012, the first baseman/outfielder has been up and down between the majors and minors in the Phillies organization. However, Ruf’s time in Philadelphia came to an end at the beginning of the offseason, when the club made a deal to send him to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for veteran Howie Kendrick.
This looked like a positive move for Ruf on the surface as he seemed to have a firm grasp on a bench role for Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
But, as the winter wore on, it became clear that the now 30 year-old was being squeezed out of the Dodgers opening day roster. This past week, Los Angeles has added quality role players in Chase Utley and Franklin Gutierrez. These are acquisitions that would make it difficult for Ruf to see much playing time at all.
Knowing this, Ruf is once again on the move as the Dodgers have officially sold his contract to the Samsung Lions of the Korean Baseball Organization. According to Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times, the former Phillie is set to earn $1.1 million as a member of the Lions. This is about twice as much as he would’ve made as a minimum salary player in 2017, being that he is just shy of the Super 2 designation.
It’s still quite odd to see a player of Ruf’s caliber make the jump oversees at this point in his career, even though the money clearly has something to do with his departure. The Dodgers needed to open up space for their recent additions, and this move seemed like a win for everyone involved.
It’s yet to be known how long Ruf is expected to remain a member of the KBO. Perhaps he is just waiting for the opportunity to test the major league market again after this coming season? Maybe he plans to stay longer?
Ruf certainly would have some value as a pinch hitter/utility player on a National League ballclub. For his career, the 6’3″, 250 lbs. slugger has hit for a .240 average over combined 286 games. He hit double-digit home runs in 2013 and then again in 2015.