The Phillies have struck early in the offseason once more, this time re-signing catcher Carlos Ruiz to a three-year, $26 million deal with a $4.5 million club option for a fourth year in 2017. The Philadelphia Inquirer's Matt Gelb first reported the details of the contract.
Ruiz has been in the Phillies organization since he was signed as an international free agent out of Panama back in 1998. The right-handed batter became the regular catcher in 2007, and has generally been an above-average presence both at and behind the plate. He scuffled to start 2013, and was suspended 25 games for his use of adderall, but finished strong with a .288/.343/.444 line over the last two months of the season.
Combined with his defense, there is a legitimate chance Ruiz earns the value of the deal over the first two years of the contract -- if he ages well, that $4.5 million club option becomes a significant advantage for the Phillies. At the least, he could be an inexpensive transitional catcher for them in his final year of service. If he's not worth that by 2017, the buyout is for all of $500,000.
Ruiz was also being pursued by the Red Sox, but, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark, the third guaranteed year sealed the deal for the Phillies, and ended Boston's pursuit.