The Washington Nationals agreed to terms on an eight-year contract – including two club options – with catcher Keibert Ruiz on Saturday. The contract begins in 2023 and runs through the 2030 season with club options for the 2031 and 2032 seasons. Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.
Ruiz, 24, is entering his fourth Major League season and his third season as a member of the Washington Nationals. He was Washington’s top prospect and the No. 11 prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball America entering the 2022 season. As a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, Ruiz ranked as their top prospect in 2021 and 2019, according to Baseball America.
Despite having his 2022 season end on Sept. 8, Ruiz ranked among National League catchers in pickoffs (T1st, 4), catcher caught stealing (2nd, 18), games (2nd, 112), doubles (5th, 22), hits (5th, 99) and extra-base hits (T6th, 29) last season. His 18 catcher caught stealings ranked second in Major League Baseball behind Philadelphia catcher J.T. Realmuto (27). Additionally, Ruiz picked off four runners at first base, tied for the most in Major League Baseball.
Ruiz opened the 2022 season in strong fashion, hitting .281/.340/.381 from Opening Day through the end of May. He closed the season hitting safely in 14 of his final 19 games, going 18-for-60 (.300) with four doubles, one homer, six RBI, six walks, one stolen base and seven runs scored during this stretch. He struck out just one time in his last 43 plate appearances (2.3%) to end the season.
Since joining the Nationals at the 2021 Trade Deadline, Ruiz has hit .257 with 25 doubles, nine homers, 50 RBI, 36 walks, six stolen bases and 42 runs scored in 135 games. He’s posted a .319 on-base percentage and a .366 slugging percentage along the way. Over the last two seasons, Ruiz ranks eighth in Major League Baseball (min. 500 PA) with an 11.2% strikeout rate.
After being acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ruiz reported to Triple-A Rochester before recalled on Aug. 30, 2021. Before he was recalled to Washington, Ruiz ranked fourth in all of Minor League Baseball with a .616 slugging percentage and ninth with a .993 OPS. He went on to hit .284 with three doubles, two homers, 14 RBI, six walks and nine runs scored in 23 games for the Nationals from that moment through the end of the 2021 season. He stuck out just four times and did not strike out in 37 consecutive plate appearances from Sept. 20 through the end of the season, the third-longest streak by a rookie in Major League Baseball in 2021, per the Elias Sports Bureau. All told, Ruiz struck out just once in his last 75 plate appearances (1.3%) of the 2021 season.
Ruiz was acquired by Washington along with right-handed pitcher Josiah Gray, outfielder Donovan Casey and right-handed pitcher Gerardo Carrillo in exchange for right-handed pitcher Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner on July 30, 2021. He originally signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a non-drafted free agent, July 20, 2014.
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