3 Astros Trade Targets on Teams Falling Out of Playoff Race

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1. Darin Ruf, 1B (Giants)

The Giants were a hard team to evaluate going into this season. Their roster did not look fit to win 107 games again, but it certainly didn’t look as though they were just a .500 team. Yet, here they sit, 15.5 games back of first place in the NL West and a game back of the Phillies for the final wild card spot. They have lost 3 of the first 4 games in a crucial series on the road against the Dodgers to start the second half, and they’re 34-39 since May 1. They just don’t have the same magic as they did last year, and while they’ll still be in a good position to start next year regardless of what they do at the deadline, they probably shouldn’t be buyers if things continue to go south.

Darin Ruf would by no means be a game-changing acquisition, but there are few better options if the Astros want to add depth and length to their lineup. After a 3-year odyssey in the KBO, he made a remarkable comeback to MLB with the Giants, with 31 home runs and a 125 OPS+ in 240 games since returning to America. He’s 35 years old and would be on the books for at least another season, as his contract carries a $3.5M club option for 2024, per Spotrac.

This season has been his least impressive with the Giants. He has an OPS+ of exactly 100, making him a league-average hitter on the year. He’s defensively versatile, but hasn’t been good whatsoever in left field (-4 Statcast Outs Above Average). He can play both right field and first base, but with all that said, I still think he would be a big help to the Astros in a platoon role at DH.

He has 10 home runs on the season and his 12.6% walk rate is among the best in baseball, which are both good signs, but the most telling thing about him are his righty/lefty splits. He makes up for his deficiencies against right-handed pitchers with his .894 OPS against southpaws in 100 at-bats this year. If the Astros were to find themselves in an pivotal game in the postseason against a left-handed pitcher, Ruf would be a huge help. After all, he has been there before: he homered in an eventual loss in the decisive game 5 of the NLDS last year. He isn’t a star, but acquiring Darin Ruf would go a long way in ensuring that the Astros feel as good as possible about the lineup they send out, no matter who is facing them on the mound.