Former Phillies Outfielder Darin Ruf Heads to South Korea
The Phillies sent outfielder Darin Ruf to the Los Angeles Dodgers this offseason along with minor league utility player Darnell Sweeney in exchange for outfielder Howie Kendrick. Despite carrying Ruf on the Dodgers 40-man roster all season, Ruf will never suit up for the Dodgers. Instead, Ruf will keep on heading west until he crosses the Pacific Ocean.
Ruf may not have made the Dodgers, anyway.
While the Dodgers assigned Ruf a number 28 jersey and had some ready for him in Arizona for Spring Training, the roster spot could have soon been lost, anyway. Former Phillies second baseman Chase Utley re-signed with the Dodgers, and the roster spot will go to him. Do not feel badly for Ruf, however, who will get a substantial raise in Korea.
Ruf was barely under the threshold to qualify for salary arbitration in 2017. That means the Dodgers were likely to renew Ruf for a little more than the Major League minimum salary of $535,000. Ruf more than doubled that amount in South Korea.
While the Dodgers took Ruf and Sweeney back in exchange for Kendrick, neither player was a sure bet for the Dodgers. The Dodgers seemed mostly interested in the Phillies taking Kendrick's full salary for 2017, which would be compensation enough for Kendrick. Sweeney is in camp for the Dodgers as a non-roster minor league player.
The KBO baseball league is often compared to Double-A in terms of competition. While Korean players such as Jung Ho Kang of the Pittsburgh Pirates have succeed in Major League baseball, others such as Byung-ho Park have been considered a high-priced bust. Former Phillies pitcher Chan Ho Park is Korean, but he was drafted by the Dodgers out of college and only played in Korea as the end of his playing career.
It is very possible that Ruf could find himself a place to succeed and earn a nice living for the rest of his baseball career.