Updated at: 11/18/2013 3:05 PM
By ROB MAADDI
(AP) PHILADELPHIA - Carlos Ruiz is staying put.
Ruiz and the Phillies have agreed to a $26 million, three-year contract that will keep the former All-Star catcher in Philadelphia, two people familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press. The contract includes a club option for 2017.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because the deal hasn’t been officially announced.
Ruiz, who turns 35 in January, hit .268 with five homers and 37 RBIs in 92 games last year after serving a 25-game suspension for using a banned amphetamine. He also spent time on the disabled list.
Ruiz is known for excellent defensive skills and strong rapport with the pitching staff. He had career-highs with a .325 average, 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 2012, when he made his first All-Star team.
Several teams actively sought Ruiz on the free-agent market, and retaining him was Philadelphia’s top priority.
Ruiz, who earned $5 million last season, will make $8.5 million in each of the next three years. The club option is for $4.5 million with a $500,000 buyout.
Ruiz was a second baseman from Panama when he signed with the Phillies as an amateur free agent in 1998. He was converted to catcher, made his major league debut in 2006 and established himself as one of the premier backstops in the league.
Ruiz is a career .274 hitter with 57 homers and 336 RBIs in eight seasons. Mostly used as the No. 8 hitter in a lineup that once featured four 30-homer guys in 2009, Ruiz has batted in the middle of the order often the last two seasons.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has now given lucrative deals to four regulars from the Phillies 2008 World Series championship team. Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley also got big contracts in that order. Pitcher Cole Hamels, the NLCS and World Series MVP that year, signed a $144 million, six-year contract in July 2012.
Coming off their first losing season since 2002, the Phillies gave free-agent outfielder Marlon Byrd a $16 million, two-year deal last week. Amaro is still looking for starting pitching and bullpen help.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)