The Colorado Rockies have made free agent catcher Carlos Ruiz a "primary target" this winter, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. The team is also expected to pursue Brian McCann, but the expected asking price and pursuits from big-market teams make Ruiz the more likely of the two to end up in Colorado.
Ruiz, who turns 35 this offseason, hit .268 with 5 HR and 37 RBI in 92 games with the Phillies in 2013, and is widely regarded as one of the best defensive catchers in the game.
Renck notes that the Rockies are pursuing Ruiz in hopes of putting him at catcher and moving Wilin Rosario to first base or right field in an effort to get him more at-bats.
Rosario, 24, would benefit from learning from a veteran catcher, and is also expected to learn a new position in the near future.
In eight years with the Phillies, Ruiz is a lifetime .274 hitter with 57 HR and 336 RBI. He is highly regarded among the Phillies' pitchers, who have expressed to team management that they badly want Ruiz to return in 2014. According to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, the possibility of a reunion between Ruiz and the Phillies is still a very plausible one, and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. spoke highly of the backstop in late September.
"We'd like to bring him back," Amaro said. "He knows we'd like to bring him back. We'll see what happens. It wouldn't be the first free agent [we've had]. … I'd like to have as much balance [in the lineup] as we can, we haven't been very good against left-handers. It's well documented."
In addition to the Phillies and Rockies, Ruiz is expected to draw interest from the many teams looking for a catcher, including the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, Rangers and White Sox. Ruiz and McCann are joined by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Dioner Navarro, John Buck, A.J. Pierzynski and Kurt Suzuki on the list of available catchers this winter.
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- 2013-2014 MLB free agent tracker sorted by position