Darin Ruf is the one guy on the New York Mets roster universally panned by the fans with the exclusion of a few who just like to go against the grain. He’s a bad fit for the team in general. Add in how poorly things went in 2022, he’s the last of the “drive him to the airport” players on this roster.
Those types of players are nothing new for the Mets. Each year, there seems to be at least one player we’re ready to cut bait with before Opening Day. Ruf is it right now ever since James McCann was traded to the Baltimore Orioles.
Ruf’s time with the Mets feels like it will come to a close at some point before the 2023 season is over. Currently nursing a wrist injury, one past Mets transaction could hint at what lies ahead for him.
The Mets gave Robinson Cano a short window to prove himself and could do the same with Darin Ruf
How much time will the Mets give Ruf to showcase what he has left? If he begins the year on the IL, which is always a possibility even with what looks like a more minor injury, it’s harder to tell. They could hold him back until he’s absolutely necessary for the roster. Assuming he’s ready for Opening Day, last year’s farewell to Robinson Cano is an indication of what the timeline the Mets could have planned.
Cano’s situation was different. Pricier and coming off of a year-long suspension, the Mets were forced to make a pair of roster moves when the calendar flipped to May. Teams began the 2022 season with a 28-man roster due to the shortened Spring Training. The decision came down to designating Cano for assignment or demoting Dominic Smith. The team chose the former because it was clear the veteran second baseman had nothing left.
The Mets won’t be forced to have this deadline to make a choice on Ruf. The start of May still wouldn’t be such a bad time to reassess any decision they do make. It’s enough time to realize and correct an error. Ruf will have had a full month of working his way into the lineup. By then, the Mets will have been able to see how unnecessary it is to have him and Tommy Pham on the roster. Brett Baty will have already heated enough to further solidify himself as the better fit.
The health of certain players, especially Starling Marte, should have the Mets waiting on whatever their final decision would be. In his absence, Ruf could be a right-handed option in right field. This might mean Baty and Ruf both make the Opening Day roster with Marte's return requiring a definitive answer.
Any urgency to move on from Ruf has now passed. The front office should still have a date in mind for when they part ways; unless of course he stuns us all and suddenly becomes the lefty masher Billy Eppler believed he could be.