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Justin Ruggiano sent outright to Triple-A Oklahoma City, elects free agency

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers outfielder Justin Ruggiano cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday, removing him from the 40-man roster.

As someone with over three years of major league service time — Ruggiano has four years, 123 days of service — he has the right to refuse the outright assignment to the minors and become a free agent, which is the decision he chose.

Ruggiano was the most effective in-season acquisition by the Dodgers in 2015. Traded from the Mariners for cash considerations on Aug. 31, Ruggiano was one of the best players for the Dodgers during the final month, hitting .291/.350/.618 in September and October, including .333/.388/.667 with eight extra-base-hits in 49 plate appearances against left-handers.

The Dodgers used Ruggiano as a lefty masher, with 81.7 percent of his plate appearances and all 13 of his starts coming against southpaws.

He started Game 4 of the National League Division Series in left field against Mets southpaw starter Steven Matz, and appeared in three games during the series. Ruggiano went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, including striking out in both at-bats against Matz.

Had he remained on the 40-man roster, Ruggiano would have been eligible for salary arbitration this winter. He made $2.505 million in 2014, and hit a combined .248/.333/.472 with six home runs and eight doubles in 141 plate appearances between the Mariners and Dodgers.

The Dodgers still have club option decisions on Friday with Bronson Arroyo, Joel Peralta and Chase Utley, but at the moment with the Ruggiano transaction there are exactly 40 players on the 40-man roster.