The most important moment of a player's offseason can often seem to completely lack drama to outsiders. Take Darin Ruf, for example.
Ruf's fate was officially announced in an email the Giants sent out to beat reporters late on Dec. 2, with the right-handed slugger listed alongside five others who had signed one-year contracts to avoid the arbitration process.
Most Giants fans probably learned of Ruf's decision that day through a tweet, or perhaps they saw his name grouped with many others in a story.
But for Ruf, Dec. 2 was a stressful and "hectic day." During an appearance on KNBR this week, Ruf said it was all quiet until about two hours before the deadline. That's when his agent said the Giants had reached out and asked if he would get a pre-deadline deal done. Ruf said he agreed to the deal, which is worth $1.275 million, a minute or two before the 5 p.m. PST deadline. His agent hurriedly jumped off the phone and called the Giants, who had to inform the league office.
"It was pretty stressful," he said. "But it was expected. In a way I figured I would be on the bubble of tender or non-tender, so we wanted to make sure we got something worked out ahead of time to provide a little sense of security for the next two months and ease my mind about all the stresses that come in the offseason and being a free agent."
The call was not an easy one for the Giants. They don't have a lot of wiggle room on their bench, especially for players with defensive limitations. Ruf would be an obvious fit if the DH is brought back, but even without it, Ruf can provide plenty of value as a platoon piece in left, occasional option at first and bench off the bat. In his first year with San Francisco, Ruf had a .370 on-base percentage, .517 slugging percentage and five homers in 100 plate appearances.
Ruf ended up making 15 starts in left and one in right, a total that surprised him. But he moved around well enough out there that the Giants didn't have major concerns, and manager Gabe Kapler liked having the extra power bat in his lineup.
Ruf said he's preparing for more time in left, where Alex Dickerson gets the at-bats against right-handed pitchers and Ruf and Austin Slater should against lefties. He also said he's ready to help off the bench and maybe see more time at first, where the Giants have Brandon Belt and Wilmer Flores set for most of the starts.
Fitting Ruf's bat in the lineup could be a lot easier by the time he reports to Scottsdale Stadium in February. While the Giants have been told to operate as if there won't be a DH, there's a chance MLB and the MLBPA come to an agreement before then and the universal DH remains. Flores and Ruf would be obvious choices for the Giants.
"I think both sides want it," Ruf said of the DH. "If we get it, that'd be great. If not, I think it's a year away. Hopefully, we get it done this year."