- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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Faced with the prospect of losing their longtime catcher, Carlos Ruiz, to the Boston Red Sox, the Philadelphia Phillies agreed Monday to re-sign Ruiz to a three-year, $26 million contract, sources confirmed to ESPN.com.
The deal will pay Ruiz a salary of $8.5 million in each of the next three seasons, according to a source familiar with the contract. There is also a $4.5 million club option for the 2017 season or a $500,000 buyout.
Ruiz, who turns 35 in January, becomes the fourth-highest-paid catcher in baseball, with an average annual value of $8.67 million.
Only Buster Posey ($18.56 million), Yadier Molina ($15 million) and Miguel Montero ($12 million) are earning more at that position now that the Twins are shifting Joe Mauer from catcher to first base.
Ruiz can earn another $500,000 per year if he starts 125 games -- a threshold he has never reached in his eight major league seasons. The deal also includes a limited no-trade clause, sources said, which allows him to block trades to four teams. He would gain total trade-veto rights with the Phillies by becoming a "10-and-5 man" (10 years of big league service, with five for the same team) in July 2016.
As recently as last week, it appeared Ruiz was on the verge of leaving the Phillies, the only franchise he has played for, potentially to join a Red Sox team that had made him its top catching target, largely because of his ability to run a contending pitching staff, sources said. The Colorado Rockies and Toronto Blue Jays also had expressed serious interest.
However, the Phillies -- as they have done with several other members of the core group from their 2008 championship team -- made it a priority to retain him and were willing to up their offer to include a third guaranteed season, after previously offering two years with a vesting option for a third season.
Ruiz is coming off his least productive season in five years. He missed the first 25 games following a suspension for testing positive for a banned stimulant and spent four weeks on the disabled list in May and June with a hamstring injury.
A year after compiling a career-high .935 OPS, he wound up hitting only .268 in 2013, with a .320 on-base percentage, .368 slugging percentage and just 21 extra-base hits in 92 games.
However, he helped his market value by batting.298/.360/.465 in his final 31 games, with 10 doubles in 114 at-bats. And the length and dollar amount of his contract were indications the Phillies were not concerned about any lingering after-effects of his stimulant suspension.