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.