Looking to bolster its relief corps, the Chicago Cubs dealt outfielder Justin Ruggiano to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for left-handed reliever Ian Thomas in the final 24 hours of the FanSided Mock Winter Meetings Sunday.
Ruggiano, who joined the Cubs in 2014 after spending the first portion of his career with the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins, was solid for first-year manager Ricky Renteria, batting .281/.337/.429 in 81 ballgames, adding six home runs and 28 RBIs. He saw time at multiple outfield positions and was under team control through the 2016 season.
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A career .257/.319/.431 hitter, the veteran outfielder faced a logjam in Chicago, with the likes of Chris Coghlan, Junior Lake, Matt Szczur, Jorge Soler and several other prospects all vying for the three outfield positions in the immediate future.
In exchange for the 32-year-old outfielder, we sought more relief help to shore up an already-solid bullpen heading into next season. After adding another left-hander in a trade with the Kansas City Royals earlier in the simulation, we sought another southpaw to add to the mix in 2015 in Ian Thomas.
The 27-year-old Thomas, who is under team control through the 2020 campaign, made his big league debut with Atlanta in 2014, making 16 relief appearances, pitching to the tune of a 4.22 ERA, but a much more manageable 2.38 FIP in just under a dozen innings of work. Prior to his promotion, the southpaw spent time with Rookie-Level, Double and Triple-A affiliates of the Braves, posting a 4.30 ERA in 13 outings.
During his Minor League career, Thomas has been stellar, with a 2.58 earned run average in six seasons spanning over 300 innings of work. Our hope is he will help fortify the relief corps from the left side, adding another option for new manager Joe Maddon in his first year at the helm.