Most teams fortunate enough to have cheap, productive players don’t have a whole lot of interest in trading them. The Cardinals, however, may consider offers for Colby Rasmus this winter. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that his 24-year-old center fielder asked for a trade, and GM John Mozeliak must now decide whether to make one.
Rasmus denies that he asked for a trade, but has undeniably drawn the ire of La Russa and Albert Pujols. La Russa is a free agent after the season, so the Cardinals could simply hire another manager this winter to avoid clubhouse tension. But Pujols isn’t going anywhere and he says the Cards should trade Rasmus if he doesn’t want to play in St. Louis. Of course Pujols isn’t the one making this decision. Mozeliak would likely have serious reservations about dealing a cornerstone player, regardless of Pujols’ feelings and Rasmus’ reported demand.
After all, Rasmus doesn’t hit free agency until after the 2014 season. He has an .849 OPS this year and plays a premium defensive position for the MLB minimum salary. It is extremely difficult to replace that kind of asset, which is precisely why other teams would have interest in Rasmus if the Cardinals decide to trade their center fielder. Here’s a list of potential suitors for Rasmus, but do keep in mind that Cardinals executives have given no public indication that they are seriously considering a trade:
- The Braves have a pair of disappointing center fielders (Melky Cabrera and Nate McLouth) and a thing for Georgia natives, so they would presumably have interest in Rasmus.
- The Padres have Tony Gwynn, Ryan Ludwick, Kyle Blanks and others under team control in 2011, so they’d have to get creative.
- The Brewers would likely have trouble prying Rasmus away from the Cards, since they play in the same division, but an outfield of Ryan Braun, Rasmus and Corey Hart wouldn’t look bad.
- The A’s traded away a promising center fielder (Carlos Gonzalez) two offseasons ago; maybe they’d seize the chance to acquire an equally promising young player.
- The Red Sox have a pair of options under contract for 2011, but injuries to Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury diminished the team’s center field depth.
- The Nationals, who are now dealing with their own center fielder’s issues, would likely have interest in Rasmus if the Cards make him available.
- The Royals don't have a long-term option in center field.
- The Blue Jays would presumably inquire, as they did when Yunel Escobar fell out of favor in Atlanta.
Other teams would likely have interest, too, since players like Rasmus aren’t often available via trade. Again, the Cardinals will likely make every effort to keep Rasmus in St. Louis before putting him on the market. But if they do decide to trade him this winter, a variety of rival teams should show interest.