Cubs make power move with Justin Ruggiano
By GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter December 12, 2013 9:59AM
Updated: December 12, 2013 11:37AM
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – It may not sound like much, but the Cubs added some power potential to their outfield Thursday morning when they traded Brian Bogusevic to the Miami Marlins for platoon-candidate Justin Ruggiano.
The right-handed hitting Ruggiano, 31, hit 18 home runs last season, second to Giancarlo Stanton on the Marlins’ roster and is seen as a versatile fourth outfielder who could find playing time as part of a platoon with lefty hitters Ryan Sweeney and/or Nate Schierholtz.
It was the only major-league move the Cubs made during the meetings, which continued a slow-moving, quiet winter for a cash-strapped front office that still expects another move or two in the next two weeks.
“I think there will be good things that come out of these meetings over the next few weeks,” general manager Jed Hoyer said, pointing to Christmas as a rough end date for anticipated free agent deals. “I’d be surprised if that didn’t happen, given contacts we’ve made and discussions we had.”
The 200-strikeout elephant in the room all week followed the Cubs home, with Jeff Samardzija trade talks continuing with several teams, notably the Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees.
Sources say the Arizona Diamondbacks are still trying to land Samardzija after trading two potential trade chips – pitcher Tyler Skaggs and outfielder Adam Eaton – in a three-team trade this week.
Nothing looked close for Samardzija as the meetings concluded, leaving Ruggiano as the jewel of their off-season to date.
The Cubs hope his power hitting will look even better by no longer playing his home games at spacious Marlins Park – where he hit only three of his homers.
“We like the fit,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “We like Brian [a lefty], but we felt the better fit was the right-handed bat right now.”
Ruggiano’s biggest claim to fame, though, was a near-record experience during a five-week slump – when he went 42 consecutive at-bats without a hit, three short of the big-league record.
“I wouldn’t wish anyone to be in that spot,” he said after snapping the streak with an infield hit. “It was terrible.”
NOTE: The Cubs, who lost their first-round pick in Thursday morning’s Rule 5 draft to Philadelphia to resolve a dispute over stashing 2011 pick Lendy Castillo on the DL most of 2012, had reliever Marcos Mateo nabbed from their system by the Arizona Diamondbacks Thursday. He must remain on Arizona’s big-league roster all season or be offered back to the Cubs.