The Cardinals "might reconsider [their] stance" on trading center fielder Colby Rasmus, reports Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He adds that GM John Mozeliak "would have to acquire a significant return for Rasmus but may be willing to plumb long-standing interest from the pitching-rich Tampa Bay Rays."
Rasmus, 24, is showing "only halting development" in Strauss' opinion. He's hitting .246/.329/.413 with nine home runs in 360 plate appearances this season. That's solid for a center fielder, but a decline from last year's numbers. Defensively, Rasmus put up a strong UZR in '09 but has been below-average in over 1,800 center field innings since then. If Rasmus were to be traded, Jon Jay would become the Cardinals' starting center fielder.
Even with his stock slightly down, Rasmus would be a hot commodity on the trade market. I can see why he'd interest the Rays, who control center fielder B.J. Upton through 2012 but could control Rasmus through '14. Rasmus could jump past $3MM in arbitration next year against perhaps $7MM for Upton. Upton could be moved in a separate deal, though the Nationals would probably be interested in both center fielders. It'd be a big win for the Cardinals to somehow pry James Shields loose in a Rasmus deal, but with Shields' ace performance and his contract offering options through '14, a direct swap doesn't seem to benefit Tampa Bay enough.