We're at that point in the off-season where there will start to be some casualties off the 40-man roster. Chance Ruffin is the first significant one to get the axe, as the fallout from bringing back Franklin Gutierrez. He enters into a floating December wonderland of uncertainty, where other teams will investigate whatever the hell he is now and figure out whether he's worth claiming so they can also DFA him later on.
Ruffin came over as a part of the Fister trade as a dominant "future closer" who missed a bunch of bats. He joined the Mariners in 2011, pitched decently, and then it was all downhill from there. His subsequent 2012 found him back in Tacoma where he was a disaster, completely losing his command and with it the ability to make anybody swing and miss. The organization tried to change him back into a strike throwing "here, hit this" kind of pitcher and stuck him in the rotation, but he eventually found himself back in the bullpen after he was promoted to a full Tacoma rotation.
Ruffin was pretty solid in his 29.2 innings in Tacoma (3.74 FIP, 7.6 K/9), but he never regained the ability to strike batters out consistently. Somewhere along the line he simply couldn't do both things at the same time - throw strikes and not walk people. It's been hard to envision a future in the Mariners organization for Ruffin for a while now, and removing him from the 40-man roster is really the only option at this point.
Maybe he'll be claimed. Rick seemed to think he might be, even though I was skeptical. It's a weird part of the off-season, where the winter meetings have died down and everyone is waiting on Tanaka before they do anything else, so it actually does make some sense that a team might claim him just in case they don't sign anyone better before the next season begins, but Ruffin has all the makings of a guy who might bounce around a few organizations before inevitably passing through waivers and ending up in somebody's organization, probably back in AA as a starter who can't miss many bats but doesn't give up an egregious amount of runs.
Ruffin was the player to be named later in the Doug Fister trade, the guy most of us were hoping was Drew Smyly. Despite not being the big chip some of us wanted to help even the trade out, he still seemed like he had a lot of potential. Pitching prospects are fickle, especially guys like Ruffin, who hadn't thrown a whole lot of professional innings. Now that Casper Wells, Francisco Martinez, and Ruffin have all been designated, Charlie Furbush (who just avoided all that potential arbitration Super-Two controversy by signing for $750,000) is the only piece left from the Doug Fister trade.
Sometimes a DFA feels like the end of an a player's career, and this is one of those times. Failed reliever, middling starter, back to uninspiring reliever. Wherever Chance Ruffin ends up, I hope somebody figures out what to do with him.