Playing for the Miami Marlins gave outfielder Justin Ruggiano the opportunity to do something that he previously wasn't lucky enough to have the chance to do: Be a starter at the big league level.
Ruggiano, acquired last season in a trade with the Houston Astros, has been consistent and frequently in the starting lineup since he joined the squad last season. With the success of Marcell Ozuna and the rise of outfield prospect Christian Yelich, the Marlins reportedly would be open to trading Ruggiano if the deal was right.
"I wouldn't be surprised [if I'm traded] given the fact that there are some young guys they're pretty anxious to get up," Ruggiano said in an interview with the Sun-Sentinel. "All I can do is control what I can control. It's a cliché, but it's true.
Miami wasn't hesitant to trade starter Ricky Nolasco, and as President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest said earlier this month, the Marlins "wouldn't be opposed to pulling the trigger on any trade if the deal was right."
Ruggiano is batting .212 in the 79 games he has appeared in. He has a .289 on-base percentage, but has hit 12 home runs and driven in 32.
Because of the success of Ozuna, Ruggiano's playing time has been limited. He found himself in the lineup while right fielder Giancarlo Stanton was on the disabled list and has been given playing time against left-handed pitchers.
The former Ray has also given left fielder Juan Pierre an occasional day off. (Editor's note: Recently, Ruggiano's role has increased in that now Pierre is spotting Ruggiano rest days rather than the other way around)
Manager Mike Redmond has been creative in the way that he has used Ruggiano. When he isn't in the starting lineup, Ruggiano often enters the game as a pinch hitter or in a double switch. Though he isn't regarded as a typical leadoff hitter, Ruggiano has also batted leadoff when replacing Pierre in the lineup.
Although he has proven that he is versatile and durable, the Marlins may not get much in return for Ruggiano. Miami sent minor league catcher Jobduan Morales to Houston in the trade, and though Morales is batting just .183 in A ball, the Marlins likely could expect a single or double-A prospect in a trade involving Ruggiano.
Christian Yelich's and Jake Marisnick's success have led to Ruggiano trade discussions resuming. Yelich had a pair of hits in Sunday's Futures Game, but trading Ruggiano was not regarded as a possibility when Yelich was on the disabled list over a two week span.
Despite the rumors, Ruggiano enjoys playing in Miami, and wouldn't have an issue remaining a Marlin.
"I would love to stay here," Ruggiano said. "I just feel like right now this team is going in the right direction, but they're pretty excited about some young guys in the minor leagues. Baseball is a business at the end of the day. If they choose to go a different route I'll be appreciative of my time here, but I'll go do whatever I've got to do."