Trade Central: Mets Land Ruf In Five-Player Swap
The Mets continued to make budget buys at the trade deadline by adding first baseman Darin Ruf from the Giants for a four-player return centered on corner infielder J.D. Davis.
San Francisco acquired three prospects in the deal: Triple-A Syracuse lefthander Thomas Szapucki, who is on the 40-man roster; and a pair of 2021 draft picks in righthander Carson Seymour and lefthander Nick Zwack, both of whom were pitching for High-A Brooklyn.
Ruf joins Tyler Naquin and Daniel Vogelbach as bat-first players acquired by the Mets in the week leading up to the deadline. All three were acquired without dipping into the organization’s top 20 prospects.
Darin Ruf, 1B
Ruf is a righthanded-hitting first baseman who is controllable through 2023. He is a career .282/.379/.550 hitter versus lefthanders with a rate of 39 home runs per 650 plate appearances. Ruf helps shore up a Mets lineup that had produced a 109 wRC+ versus lefthanders, which ranked 12th in MLB.
J.D. Davis, 3B/1B
Davis is the Mets’ outgoing DH versus lefthanders and part of the reason the club had received minus production from the DH spot this season. He has struggled to repeat the offensive success he found in his first season with New York in 2019, but he has produced at a league-average rate this season in part-time play and owns a career .349 OBP. Davis has not shown a platoon split in his career and is controllable for two more seasons. He is an erratic fielder at third base, albeit with a plus arm, and an improving defender at first base who is at least average there.
Thomas Szapucki, LHP
In his lone career MLB start, Szapucki allowed nine runs on seven hits—including four home runs—in 1.1 innings at San Francisco on May 25 this season. The caveat in his case is that he had just endured a cross-country flight as an injury replacement. Szapucki had pitched much more effectively at Triple-A, with a 3.38 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 32% strikeout rate in 64 innings. He hasn’t shown the same crispness of stuff or endurance since missing most of 2017 and 2018 to Tommy John surgery, but his velocity had increased by four or five ticks this season and he has retained his high-spin curveball as his bread-and-butter. Szapucki probably fits best in the bullpen or as a swingman.
Carson Seymour, RHP
Drafted in the sixth round last year out of Kansas State, Seymour is a physical, 6-foot-6 righthander with a power groundball profile. He pitched his way to High-A in his full-season debut and in 51.1 innings for Brooklyn had a 3.68 ERA and 31% strikeout rate. To get outs, Seymour leans on a 94 mph sinker, complemented by a mid-90s four-seamer, cutter, curveball and changeup. He likes the pressure and adrenaline of coming out of the bullpen in close games and could settle into that role in MLB.
Nick Zwack, LHP
One of the bigger breakouts in the Mets’ system this season, Zwack is a 6-foot-3 lefthander with three average pitches whose stuff plays up because of deception. Drafted in the 17th round last year out of Xavier, he reached High-A in early May. Among minor league pitchers with at least 70 innings this season, Zwack ranked fourth with a 2.44 FIP, 11th with a 26.2 K-BB% and 16th with a 2.37 ERA. His fastball sits 91-94 mph, but he needs to build more separation between it and his mid-80s changeup and slider. His ultimate role is probably future reliever or swingman.