UPDATE (Nov. 6, 9:40 a.m. PT): According to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times, outfielder Justin Ruggiano elected to become a free agent:
Justin Ruggiano has become a free agent.
— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) November 6, 2015
The Los Angeles Dodgers sent outfielder Justin Ruggiano to Triple-A Oklahoma City, per the club’s transactions page. The move means Ruggiano cleared waivers and he’s no longer on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster.
However, given that Ruggiano has more than three years of Major League service time, he can elect free agency as opposed to accepting the outright assignment to OKC.
The Dodgers acquired Ruggiano and cash considerations from the Seattle Mariners on Aug. 31, beating the deadline for players to be traded and remain eligible for the postseason roster with their new club.
Ruggiano at the time was with Triple-A Tacoma, where he hit .296/.385/.514 with 10 home runs and 29 RBIs in 49 games. He began the 2015 season on the Mariners’ roster, but was designated for assignment on June 4 and sent outright to Triple-A.
Upon joining the Dodgers, who selected Ruggiano in the 25th round of the 2004 draft, the 33-year-old outfielder was hitting .214/.321/.357 with two home runs and three RBIs in 81 plate appearances over 34 games with the Mariners.
Los Angeles primarily utilized Ruggiano against left-handed pitching, and to great success. He hit .291/.350/.618 with four home runs, 12 RBIs, a .409 wOBA and 166 wRC+ in September and October (21 games; 13 starts).
As mentioned, Ruggiano was particularly effective against lefties over that stretch, batting .333/.388/.667 with eight extra-base hits.
Despite the New York Mets not having many left-handers, a Scott Van Slyke wrist injury resulted in Ruggiano earning a postseason roster spot. He pinch-hit in Games 2 and 3 of the National League Division Series, and started Game 4 with New York sending southpaw Steven Matz to the hill.
However, Ruggiano was unable to mirror his success from the final month of the regular season, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in the NLDS.
By outrighting Ruggiano, the Dodgers’ number of arbitration-eligible players now drops to 10. Additionally, there are now 40 players on the 40-man roster. That should change Friday with the Dodgers holding club options on Bronson Arroyo, Joel Peralta and Chase Utley.