PORT ST. LUCIE — The Mets’ want for pace off the bench and dissatisfaction with a struggling veteran blocking that addition eliminated a goal of Citi Field boo birds from the equation Monday.
Darin Ruf, who underperformed after arriving final season on the commerce deadline and wasn’t wanting any higher in spring coaching, was designated for project, the Mets introduced.
The group added Tim Locastro to the Opening Day roster in his place.
Ruf, 36, is owed $3.125 million for this season, which will likely be absorbed by the Mets if he isn’t claimed off waivers.
Last August, he was acquired in a deal that despatched J.D. Davis, Thomas Szapucki, Carson Seymour and Nick Zwack to the Giants.
“It was a trade that didn’t work out — plain and simple,” basic supervisor Billy Eppler stated.
Last season Ruf produced a .152/.216/.197 slash line in 28 video games for the Mets and was booed at Citi Field.
In spring coaching this season, he had a .167/.265/.233 slash line.
“Just generally it was kind of hard for him to get his feet underneath him,” Eppler stated. “You feel bad for him as a person and the things he kind of endured, but I appreciate how he handled everything and how professional he was with all of it.”
Eppler stated he conferred with proprietor Steve Cohen due to the cash Ruf is owed and was advised to “make the baseball decision.”
It was much like the message Eppler acquired final yr when the group determined to launch Robinson Cano with $36 million remaining on his contract.
Dominic Smith was additionally optioned to Triple-A final yr regardless of having a significant league contract.
The Mets signed Tommy Pham within the offseason as a right-handed bat that may complement the outfield and DH place.
Daniel Vogelbach is the Mets’ left-handed DH possibility. Mark Canha’s means to play first base behind Pete Alonso additionally left Ruf as expendable.
Locastro, 30, is amongst MLB’s quickest gamers and can give the Mets a late-inning risk on the bases, in a job much like the one Travis Jankowski held with the membership early final season.
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Locastro appeared in 38 video games final season for the Yankees and stole eight bases, however produced solely a .186/.239/.349 slash line.
Locastro was knowledgeable Sunday night time he was on the group after assembly with Eppler and Buck Showalter within the supervisor’s workplace.
Told to maintain it quiet that he was on the group, Locastro nervously requested group brass if it was OK to inform his spouse.
The reply, after all, was sure.
“It was 50/50 in my eyes when I walked in [the office] and fortunately I made the team and I was pumped up,” Locastro stated.
Showalter’s curiosity in Locastro’s pace component was piqued early in camp.
Locastro completed with six stolen bases within the Grapefruit League and helped his case with a .289/.396/.511 slash line with one homer and eight RBIs.
He was additionally hit by a pitch seven instances.
“He came in from Day 1 and it was very obvious that he had a skill that he wanted to show,” Showalter stated. “But he did everything he could do to win a job down here and he did.”
MLB has instituted bigger bases, decreasing the gap between the luggage by about 4 inches.
That implementation, together with new guidelines that permit a pitcher solely two pickoff makes an attempt throughout an at-bat — on the third try, if the pitcher is unsuccessful a balk is named — will open up the working recreation.
“We’re kind of making a little bit of a bet on the stolen-base element,” Eppler stated. “I could really see the stolen base coming into play and I think putting Locastro on the roster serves the functionality and strategy that we want to deploy.”