Ryan Rua's respectable career numbers against left-handed pitching and ability to play first base and the corner outfield have regularly afforded him starts on the short end of a platoon over his past two seasons with the Rangers. However, his performance versus southpaws took a dramatic step back last season compared to his strong 2016 showing, with Rua slashing an unremarkable .262/.318/.377 (82 wRC+) in 67 plate appearances. A steep uptick in his strikeout rate (from 28.3 to 36.1 percent) seems to be the primary culprit behind Rua's struggles, and if he fails to show improvement in that regard early on in 2018, he could be pushed off the 40-man roster. With Joey Gallo holding his own against lefties last season and stud prospect Willie Calhoun likely joining the corner-outfield ranks on a full-time basis in 2018, the Rangers won't have much reason to exercise patience with Rua.
Rua and the Rangers avoided arbitration and agreed to a one-year, $870,000 contract Tuesday, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Rua appeared in 63 games for the Rangers last season, though he finished the season with an unsightly 36.1 percent strikeout rate to go along with his .217/.294/.333 slash line in 144 plate appearances. The 27-year-old also saw a drop-off in his production against lefties in 2017, hitting just .262/.318/.377 in 67 plate appearances. He'll likely serve as first base and corner outfield depth in 2018, though the Rangers may not show much patience with Rua if his struggles at the plate continue.
Rua started in left field and went 1-for-3 in Thursday's 4-1 loss to the Athletics. Rua recorded one of only four Rangers hits on the day, as Athletics lefty Sean Manaea turned in a dominant start. With the Rangers having shut down several regulars for the season due to minor injuries, Rua should be in line for some extra at-bats during the team's final three contests.
Rua went 3-for-4 with a walk, a run and an RBI in Sunday's 16-7 loss to the Yankees. Though he served as the Rangers' No. 9 hitter while picking up the start in left field, Rua paced the team in hits for the afternoon, turning in a double and a pair of singles. Rua could be a regular presence in the lineup against left-handed pitching for the rest of the season, but unless the Rangers are scheduled to face a southpaw-heavy slate in a given week, he won't make for an enticing fantasy play outside of AL-only formats.
Rua was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock on Friday. Rua played his way out of a semi-regular role over the first two months and has spent nearly the entire second half in the minors to this point. He will be up for good now, but Rua will likely only see sporadic opportunities against left-handed pitching over the remaining weeks of the season. The 27-year-old is arbitration eligible this winter and could be non-tendered.
Rua was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday, Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News reports. A spot was needed for Joey Gallo's return from the concussion DL, and Rua was the corresponding roster casualty. The 27-year-old went 2-for-7 (.286) during his brief stint with the Rangers, and he's now sporting an unsightly .208/.282/.340 line in 106 at-bats for the big club this season. He'll likely return sometime after rosters expand, but he isn't expected to see much playing time when he does.