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Colby Rasmus Rumors
The Rays and free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus have had discussions, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links). A Rasmus signing could become more likely in the event of a Ben Zobrist trade, Morosi adds. In that case, the outfield/DH rotation would consist of Rasmus, Kevin Kiermaier, Desmond Jennings, David DeJesus and Steven Souza.
Rasmus has most recently been connected to the Orioles, who reportedly have interest on a one-year deal. Earlier today, Morosi tweeted that Rasmus came away from a weekend meeting with Orioles manager Buck Showalter with a very good impression of both the skipper and the organization.
Coming off somewhat of a down season at the plate — he batted just .225 with a .287 OBP but a .448 slugging percentage/.223 isolated power mark — Rasmus has yet to see his market take off. However, he does now hold the distinction of being one of the best bats left on the market and is certainly the youngest bat left among free agents with significant Major League experience.
His upside is unquestionable; Rasmus has a pair of four-plus WAR seasons under his belt and hit .276/.338/.501 as recently as 2013. He does, however, struggle with strikeouts, and he’s also had his makeup questioned on occasion, although he discussed some of those concerns with TSN.ca’s Scott Macarthur late in the season.
Rasmus, of course, seems a bit of a curious fit for what appears to be a Rays team that is re-tooling, if not rebuilding. The team traded David Price in July before moving Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Joyce, Cesar Ramos and Wil Myers this offseason. They did, however, recently add Asdrubal Cabrera to play second base and still can trot out a rotation consisting of Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Drew Smyly and (eventually, once he is recovered from Tommy John surgery) Matt Moore. In the meantime, Nate Karns and Alex Colome represent suitable solutions in the fifth spot of the rotation.
Despite the roster shuffling, the Rays may still fancy themselves contenders and therefore have interest in Rasmus on a short-term deal, knowing that if things go south, they could flip him to another club. Tampa may also simply feel that Rasmus is being undervalued by the current market and that they therefore should add him to the fold on a multi-year deal — a route not unlike the one the Astros took in signing Jed Lowrie despite lacking a clear long-term infield need.
Here are highlights from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal‘s latest:
- The Braves‘ offseason has been quietly criticized throughout the industry, with other teams wondering about Atlanta’s signing of Nick Markakis and about its trades, including getting injured pitching prospect Max Fried as the co-headliner (along with Mallex Smith) in the Justin Upton deal.
- The Phillies, meanwhile, did well in getting Ben Lively in return for Marlon Byrd and cash. The Phillies didn’t get marquee names for Byrd, Jimmy Rollins or Antonio Bastardo, but they weren’t expected to. A Cole Hamels deal would clearly be a different story, and Rosenthal names the Red Sox and Cardinals as interesting potential trade partners.
- Ben Zobrist is likely to receive a qualifying offer next winter if the Rays deal him this offseason, and the possibility of getting a draft pick would likely make him even more valuable to some interested teams.
- The Orioles are interested in Colby Rasmus despite his perceived makeup issues because Buck Showalter believes Rasmus can adjust to the Orioles’ clubhouse, just as Delmon Young did. The Orioles also already possess plenty of good clubhouse players who can set strong examples. The Orioles have yet to sign Rasmus, though, and it’s not yet certain they will — Nori Aoki is also available, along with a variety of outfield trade possibilities. (Showalter met with Rasmus yesterday.)
- Wil Myers is excited about the possibility of playing center field for the Padres, Rosenthal writes. Myers has only played a handful of games at center in the Majors.
- Other teams aren’t willing to give the Rockies much for Wilin Rosario right now, so the team’s best course might be to allow Rosario to play some first base and outfield this season and hope he improves his stock after declining offensively in each of the last two seasons.
Former Orioles GM Hank Peters passed away this morning following complications from a recent stroke, as Mike Klingaman of The Baltimore Sun writes. Peters, 90, was the architect of the Orioles’ 1983 championship team, the last time the O’s won the World Series. “Nobody in baseball taught me more than Hank did,” Ron Shapiro, longtime Baltimore sports agent told Klingaman. “Through negotiations, he taught me the value of listening and of keeping one’s perspective and balance in relationship with the other side…His soft-spokenness reflected his ego-free personality.” MLBTR extends its condolences to Peters’ family and friends. More from around baseball…
- Orioles manager Buck Showalter met with free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus yesterday, but a deal isn’t imminent, according to Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun. Rasmus has expressed interest in coming to Baltimore and a strong performance on one-year contract could allow him to cash in next winter, but it doesn’t sound like we should expect a deal to be struck in the coming days. The O’s have discussed Andre Ethier with the Dodgers and they continue to monitor Nori Aoki, so Baltimore is considering other options.
- The Red Sox have gone from worst-to-first-to-worst but GM Ben Cherington is working to build a team that will be in the mix every year. “I think we’re getting closer to figuring out what that next core is, and with that, we’re closer to something that’s more lasting, more sustainable,” Cherington told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. “You can’t plan on a World Series every year, but we ought to be planning on winning teams and teams that are playing meaningful games in September and getting into October more often than not.”
- While Padres GM A.J. Preller made waves with his offensive overhaul, he has also changed things up in the bullpen by acquiring Shawn Kelley and Brandon Maurer, as Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego writes. The ‘pen was one the Padres’ bright spots in 2014 as their relievers turned in a 2.73 ERA, even after trading All-Star closer Huston Street in July.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter will meet with free agent Colby Rasmus today, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun writes. MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reported earlier this week that Showalter would speak to Rasmus about the Orioles’ interest in him.
The Orioles, contenders who play in a good ballpark, should have no problem attracting players and are not recruiting Rasmus, Connolly writes. Instead, Showalter wants to see whether Rasmus, who has at times had issues with coaches, would be a good fit for the O’s. (He had similar discussions with Nelson Cruz, Delmon Young and Alfredo Aceves before those players were acquired, Kubatko notes.) According to Kubatko, Baltimore believes that Rasmus might sign for one year and between $5MM and $8MM, giving the talented outfielder a chance to build his value before hitting the free agent market next season at age 29.
Here’s the latest out of Baltimore:
- Orioles manager Buck Showalter is scheduled to meet with free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus, tweets Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Rasmus has been frequently connected to the Orioles in recent weeks. His power is a good fit for notably home run friendly Camden Yards. There are plenty of red flags with Rasmus, such as the Blue Jays decision to bench him down the stretch last season. Chemistry is important to Showalter, which is why he’ll go to meet Rasmus at his Georgia home.
- The Orioles missed on one of their outfield targets – Seth Smith – but they’re still in on Rasmus and Ichiro Suzuki, reports Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The O’s hope to lure Rasmus with a one-year platform deal, much as they did with Nelson Cruz last season. If they’re forced to turned to Ichiro, he could potentially fill their void at leadoff.
- Baltimore is looking to add depth to the bullpen and at catcher, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. As Kubatko alludes, the interest in catcher is curious since there are already five on the 40-man roster. The club is exploring major and minor league deals, which could indicate a need for minor league backstops.
The Blue Jays only have about $9MM left to spend this offseason, Richard Griffin of TheStar.com writes. The team’s top priority is upgrading the bullpen, which means the Jays aren’t likely to spend most of that money on a second baseman or an additional bat. (Griffin notes on Twitter that the Blue Jays’ apparent lack of funds likely means they won’t get Stephen Drew, who has reportedly been asking for around $9MM.) Griffin suggests that GM Alex Anthopoulos might prefer to add a younger pitcher, which could limit the Jays’ interest in older free agent options like Francisco Rodriguez, Rafael Soriano or former team closer Casey Janssen. Instead, he could pursue trade options like Tyler Clippard, Tommy Hunter (although, as a reader points out, it does not seem likely that the Orioles would trade Hunter within the division), Tanner Scheppers, or one of any number of Athletics relievers. Here are more notes from the AL East.
- The Orioles have recently been connected to Colby Rasmus, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com looks at the repercussions for other Orioles outfielders, and especially David Lough, if the O’s were to acquire another left-handed outfielder. The main reason for keeping Lough was his ability to play center field, but Rasmus has played center throughout his career. Separately, Kubatko notes that the Orioles will need to open a 40-man roster spot shortly to clear space for Delmon Young.
- After struggling in 2014, Craig Breslow took an unusual road back to the Red Sox this offseason, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com writes. “In terms of the process, it was exciting, it was unsettling,” says Breslow, who agreed to a one-year, $2MM deal to return to Boston after posting a 5.96 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 in 2014. “[E]veryone will go through a career with one season being their worst. Now, the fact that mine came on the cusp of free agency, that’s not how you draw it up.” Breslow attended the Winter Meetings and sat in on discussions between his agent, Bob Baratta, and various teams, explaining his tough year and making a case for himself. “Ultimately even teams we diverged from mentioned their appreciation for my involvement and that I had left an impression on them,” Breslow says.
The Orioles think that Rasmus could accept a one-year deal in the $5MM-$8MM range, much like the one-year, $8MM deal to which they signed Nelson Cruz last offseason. Such a one-year deal would give Rasmus the opportunity to improve his reputation and then sign a bigger contract next offseason, just as Cruz did this winter. The Orioles don’t “covet Rasmus greatly,” according to a source of Kubatko’s, but would be interested if they got a good deal. Buck Showalter would likely want to speak to Rasmus before the Orioles signed him, just as he did with Cruz and Delmon Young, who both came with perceived character issues.
Kubatko also notes that the Orioles have interest in signing another catcher despite the recent addition of Ryan Lavarnway, who can also play first base and isn’t a lock to make the team anyway. The O’s could also have interest in first baseman and outfielder Chris Parmelee, who recently became a free agent after being outrighted by the Twins.
Count Jon Morosi of FOX Sports among those who don’t believe that the Yankees are truly out of the race for Max Scherzer. Morosi sees a parallel between Scherzer’s free agency and the free agency of Mark Teixeira six years ago; the Yankees were said to be on the periphery of the market for each Scott Boras client, and in the end, Teixeira wound up spurning division rivals Boston and Baltimore to don Yankee pinstripes. Morosi reminds readers of the words of Red Sox owner John Henry following Teixeira’s signing with the Yanks: “There was no mention of the Yankees, but we felt all along that they were going to get the last call. That’s what you deal with in working with Scott.”
A few more notes from the American League East to enjoy with your Monday morning coffee…
- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports lists nine possible landing spots for Scherzer based on team need and payroll, with the Red Sox topping his list. Boston is believed to like Scherzer very much, Heyman notes, and the team wouldn’t have to surrender its first-round pick due to poor results in 2014. Heyman rounds out his list with the Tigers, Giants, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Cubs, Cardinals, Angels and Yankees. A few of those clubs — the Blue Jays, Cardinals and Angels — feel like a reach, though Heyman does outline his rationale for each suggestion.
- The Orioles have ongoing dialogue with Colby Rasmus, among other left-handed hitting options, reports Morosi (Twitter links). Baltimore has also continued to show interest in Ichiro Suzuki, he adds. Rasmus would come with significantly more upside than Suzuki at this point, though the latter would come at a fraction of the price. Rasmus’ left-handed bat does appearto be a good fit in Baltimore, as Orioles Park at Camden Yards has favored left-handed hitters even more than Toronto’s Rogers Centre over the past few seasons, per Baseball Prospectus.
- Sticking with the Orioles, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com hears that the Birds won’t host the 2016 All-Star Game. Baltimore has been believed by some to be a favorite to host the event, with retiring commissioner Bud Selig referring to the Orioles as a “very, very viable candidate” to host the Midsummer Classic.
- The Orioles‘ acquisition of Brad Brach last year came with little fanfare but wound up netting a key bullpen piece, writes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Brach notched a 3.18 ERA in 62 1/3 innings in Baltimore, showing the best control of his career (albeit with the lowest strikeout rate of his career as well). Brach explains to Encina that he’s focusing on a good Spring Training and good start to the season in his quest to carve out a prominent role in Baltimore’s bullpen. The 28-year-old notes that he followed up a promising 2012 with the Padres with a poor Spring Training and slow start in 2013, resulting in further time in the minors.
A frantic November and December has left Norichika Aoki, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Colby Rasmus as arguably the best available free agent position players. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes ranked the top 50 free agents earlier in the offseason, with Aoki coming in 40th, Cabrera 23rd, and Rasmus 20th. While the trio aren’t perfect substitutes since they fill different roles, that makes the question all the more interesting. Who is best?
Aoki is the elder statesman of the group – he’ll soon turn 33. However, his skill set is easily leveraged, and he’s a good fit as a leadoff hitter. MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth provided a free agent profile in November, highlighting Aoki’s strong batting average, on base percentage, and above average defense. Of course, his game comes with flaws including a complete lack of power. Most clubs shy away from corner outfielders who don’t hit for power, and Aoki only managed one home run for the Royals in 2014. It’s worth noting that he did hit 10 and eight home runs in two seasons with the Brewers. Miller Park is home run friendly whereas Kauffman Stadium suppresses home runs. Perhaps Aoki just needs an offensive environment similar to Milwaukee to fully flourish. Wilmoth pegged Aoki for a two-year, $16MM deal, while Aoki is said to be looking for a three-year contract.
Cabrera is different than the others featured here since he’s a middle infielder. Seemingly connected with every club in need of infield help, the shortstop has been discussed mainly as a second or third baseman. Defensive metrics have rated him as consistently below average over the last six seasons, which is why clubs are hesitant to consider the 29-year-old as a shortstop. Since breaking out offensively in 2011, Cabrera has been roughly league average with the bat. Teams could look at him as a possible second hitter, although he doesn’t reach base often enough to make an ideal fit. MLBTR’s Zach Links predicted a three-year, $27MM contract for Cabrera thanks to his perceived versatility, dearth of other utility infielders, and relative youth.
Speaking of youth, Rasmus is entering 2015 as a 28-year-old. His combination of youth and power should make him attractive to clubs in need of an outfielder, although there are a couple red flags. In 2014, the Blue Jays moved Rasmus to the bench down the stretch as they evaluated options for 2015. He strikes out frequently, including a 33% strikeout rate last season. The result is a low average and on base percentage. A .224 ISO over the past two campaigns allowed him to post above average offense. The Blue Jays used Rasmus exclusively as a center fielder where defensive metrics ranged from 15 runs above average in 2013 to 15 runs below average in 2014. A move to a corner outfield position could help level out the defense. The Orioles appear to be the most closely tied to Rasmus presently. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd foresees a one-year, $12MM deal while noting the challenge of predicting Rasmus’ market.
The three offer value in different ways. Aoki is a high floor, low ceiling, leadoff hitter, but he’s also the oldest of the bunch. Cabrera is under 30, features a steady bat, and plays the infield. Rasmus is the youngest, was once a top prospect, and still shows flashes of the talent that led to the prospect hype. Two other free agents remain on Dierkes top 50 list – Stephen Drew (42nd) and Emilio Bonifacio (43rd). So here’s the question:
The Braves have reportedly been trying to package Chris Johnson or B.J. Upton along with one of their more desirable trade targets, and the Royals at least had some interest in Johnson, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Kansas City’s greater interest was in Justin Upton, though the Royals were considering using Johnson as a platoon partner with Mike Moustakas at third base. Now that K.C. has signed Alex Rios, however, they can probably be counted out of the running for the younger Upton brother.
Here’s some more from around the baseball world…
- The Twins aren’t seriously interested in either Asdrubal Cabrera or Jung-ho Kang, ESPN 1500’s Darren Wolfson reports (Twitter links), though Minnesota might “place [a] small bid” on Kang’s services. Teams have until Friday at 4pm CT to post their bids for Kang.
- Also from Wolfson, the Twins aren’t interested in signing outfielder Colby Rasmus.
- Three or four teams are getting “more engaged” with Kevin Correia, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. The clubs in question are looking at Correia as a low-cost add as a fourth or fifth starter.
- The Cardinals could still add another starting pitcher as a depth option, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch writes as part of a reader mailbag. This would be a low-cost signing, Langosch notes, speculating that the Cards would look for a pitcher trying to recover from either an injury or just a poor 2014 season.
- The Giants could also be looking to make a similar buy-low signing, as Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) hears that the club could fill its left field hole with a player coming off a rough season.
- It’s been a surprisingly busy offseason for scouting director moves, as MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo notes that eight different teams have installed new scouting directors since the start of October.
- Padres director of baseball options Nick Ennis discusses analytics, the evaluation of new ideas and much more in an interview with Fangraphs’ Eno Sarris.