Archive for the ‘Colby Rasmus’ Category

colby

In this guest post from Kyle Matte we get a look at what the future holds for Colby Rasmus, as he begins his final season before free agency, and whether the Jays can keep him. Follow Kyle on Twitter at @KyleMatte.

When Major League Baseball’s newest Collective Bargaining Agreement was under discussion, both sides acknowledged that the Type A/Type B free agent compensation system needed to be re-worked. It put numerous players in a position where their leverage was being artificially hauled down by a mechanism that offered them little to no benefit. The acceptance of arbitration would at best gain them a one-year deal, and because of the way salary escalation was handled, even the best players were looking at maybe a 20% raise on their previous year’s earnings. Always seeking the security of a long term deal, the offer was almost universally declined.

The two sides came up with the Qualifying Offer – a way to protect teams from losing elite free agents for nothing, while limiting the number of mid-tier free agents carrying draft pick compensation because of the hefty figure involved: a one year deal with a guaranteed salary equal to the average of the top 125 players in all of baseball. Part of that plan has certainly come to fruition. Heading into 2011, 83 free agents had draft pick compensation attached: 33 Type A, 50 Type B. In the two years since the Qualifying Offer was implemented, just 9 and 13 free agents have felt the draft pick noose hung around their neck. What likely wasn’t a part of the plan is that the non-elite free agents still being tagged are finding a market more unwelcoming than ever before, as front offices have proven increasingly protective of their draft picks and bonus money. Some fault must be placed on the agents for misreading the market their clients were jumping head-first into, but any system that prevents above average talent like Stephen Drew from finding legitimate, fair contracts is obviously flawed. Kendrys Morales: there are simply no words for your decision making process.

This system is relevant to Toronto, as come the end of the 2014 season, one of our own will be marching into free agency: Colby Rasmus. Mind you, we thought much the same last year, and we saw how that turned out with Josh Johnson. The situation with Rasmus is different, however, for two main reasons. The first is that he’s been healthy; his 458 plate appearances in 2013 were a career low, and he still had his most productive output. The second is that he’s a position player. Of the 22 players to receive qualifying offers, 16 have been of the non-pitcher persuasion. Teams have, perhaps wisely, been especially wary of spending big on free agent pitchers the last couple of years.

Beyond his health and non-pitcher status, Rasmus has a number of things working in his favor. Colby will be just 28 years old on Opening Day 2014, which would tie him with B.J. Upton as the youngest free agent to receive the Qualifying Offer. Additionally, he’s already displayed an elite-level peak. His 4.8 fWAR in 2013 places him in the company of Robinson Cano, Josh Hamilton, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-SooChoo, Michael Bourn, Curtis Granderson, and Mike Napoli as players who exceeded 4.5 fWAR in any of the three seasons leading up to their free agency. Finally, Rasmus plays an up-the-middle position (catcher, second base, shortstop, center field). Seven signed players met that criteria, and the average contract from that group was an astounding 6 years and 113 million. That is not a prediction of what he will make, merely a guarantee that barring a meteorically catastrophic 2014 season, Colby Rasmus will receive a Qualifying Offer from the Toronto Blue Jays, and he will decline it.

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colbrows

Joel Sherman of the New York Post, for some reason, is the first one to report this nugget, telling us that the Jays won’t be going to arbitration with Colby Rasmus:

The arbitration projections at MLBTR suggested $6.5-million for Rasmus, so… I guess that’s good for him?

If you’ve forgotten, the Jays have an internal policy under which they won’t negotiate one-year deals with players past the deadline for exchanging arbitration numbers, which happens to be today at 1 PM ET. If they’d gone beyond that, the two sides were either going to go to an arbitrator, or work out a multi-year extension. (Breaking the policy would be another option, I suppose, as well).

This deal doesn’t preclude them from continuing to talk about an extension, of course, but some folks out there thought it was possible that one would get done prior to today. Nope!

According to Sherman, Brett Cecil has also agreed to terms with the club, signing a $1.3-million deal to avoid arbitration, and it would be wholly surprising if we didn’t hear by the end of the day that Esmil Rogers has come to an agreement as well [Update: yep, $1.85-million], seeing as clubs and players alike hate the possibility of going to an arbitrator, because it can often become very contentious, with clubs doing literally all that they can to make the case that their player deserves less money than he’s asking for.

Rogers and Cecil were arbitration eligible for the first time this year, while this was Colby’s third and final time through the process. And I suppose now’s as good a time as any to not that next year’s first-time arbitration eligible players for the Jays will include Brett Lawrie and Steve Delabar.

colbyyell

I don’t want to get too Colby-centric today, but there has been some discussion on the post about his father’s entirely innocuous comments regarding not whether or not the Jays will trade or extend Rasmus, but whether or not they should. So let’s have a few more quick thoughts on the subject, and jump right into it with this [slightly altered] comment from yours truly:

Similar to Johnson last spring, not a lot of sense in paying for the previous season without seeing if it all works again this year. Yes, they went for it with Bautista based on not a lot of data (which we didn’t agree with around here at the time, though obviously that’s worked out swimmingly), but they obviously believed in the mechanical change. Maybe they think the same with Colby, but I have my doubts. His two best seasons are driven by some pretty big BABIP outliers, and it’s probably not a good idea paying him for BABIP unless he’s doing something different they think will make it sustainable. And while he did make mechanical changes last year — as he’s done almost constantly since he’s been here, seemingly — that’s a little hard to buy. Especially when they don’t have to, or when they can trade him to a team that maybe does, or when they can feel pretty good about either letting him play his way off the team or them getting a pick for him when he walks.

I mean, right now the difference between him and Gose is worth the difference between their salaries, I think, but when Gose is still making league minimum-ish, with a floor of something on the order of 1 WAR thanks to defence alone (maybe higher), and keeping Rasmus means investing $75-million that can’t be invested elsewhere, you’ve got to be really, really certain of him to pull that trigger.

A couple things here:

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rasmusdugout

Colby Rasmus’s father, Tony (aka @FlorenceFalcon0), is a great follow on Twitter. He’s willing to engage fans, and entirely unafraid to speak his mind, even when it comes to matters involving his son, or the team he plays for. This, as you might expect, can cause some trouble from time to time. Especially when fans with too much time on their hands, and few other nuggets to satiate themselves with, get the ol’ gears turning about why what they perceive to be an “insider” dishing about the intriguing plans of the front office.

And when Tony Rasmus is talking about the possibility of Colby getting traded, that would seem to be what people do. At least, judging by the bout of clarifications he’s been making (once again) today:

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Minnesota Twins v Toronto Blue Jays

Richard Griffin’s latest for the Toronto Star contradicts earlier reports from Bob Elliott of the Sun that suggested the Blue Jays were actively shopping Colby Rasmus in their quest to find pitching.

“Will Colby Rasmus be traded?” he asks. “It may very well happen this winter, but contrary to rumours, the Jays have not been shopping their power-hitting centre fielder…although he has been very popular whenever the Jays’ GM Alex Anthopoulos picks up his phone.”

He mostly ends up suggesting that the Jays and Cubs are still the best fit, for some kind of a deal involving Jeff Samardzija, though the fact that Alex Anthopoulos is very reluctant to move his top pitching prospects– as, according to Griffin, he dreams “for a similar situation to the ’13 Cardinals, how Michael Wacha and Trevor Rosenthal emerged, coming on like freight trains in the second half and the post-season”– is making it hard to get anything done. Though, he tells us, there is still time for the clubs to figure it all out.

Gregor Chisholm focusses in on Samardzija as well, in a new post at his North Of The Border blog, giving some quick thoughts on all of the hot topics around the Jays from down there in Orlando. One of those is also on Rasmus, who “is just one year away from a massive payday as a free agent and that has a very negative impact on his overall value.”

“The Blue Jays don’t need another back-end starter — they already have plenty of those — they need someone that can easily be a candidate for the top three,” he continues. “If the club couldn’t get that for Jose Bautista then it’s incredibly hard to believe they’d be able to get that for Rasmus.”

Wait, they couldn’t??? And now they’re done trying???

I’m sure he doesn’t mean it quite that way, and I see his point there, for sure.

Meanwhile, after word broke last night about the possibility of Rasmus being moved, ol’ @FlorenceFalcon0 (aka Tony Rasmus IV) weighed in on the situation…

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colbyhit

I’m not sure if he was just “hearing” this from Bob Elliott’s report, which I addressed last night, but here’s Joel Sherman of the New York Post in the vaguest of terms on Colby Rasmus:

It remains a smart move to consider on the Jays’ part, with the very cheap Anthony Gose already in the fold, and able to contribute enough with the glove and on the bases to keep his bat in the lineup, and with Rasmus staring at free agency a year from now, where another strong season– which is hardly a given– will push his price to astronomical, Ellsbury-like levels.

Colby did make mechanical adjustments over his first couple of years in Toronto, the culmination of which may have been his outstanding 2013 season, but the BABIP– oh, man, the BABIP. For his career, when he’s put the ball in play, Rasmus has hit .298 over 2600 plate appearances. However, in his two outstanding, four-plus win seasons in 2010 and 2013 the mark spiked, jumping to .354 and .356 in those years respectively.

I don’t know if you can quite call those proper outliers, given that we’re talking about two of his five full, big league seasons, but it’s a bit scary to think about where his bat ended up in the other three years, posting wRC+’s of 89, 90, and 83.

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rasmus-gose

Bob Elliott’s latest for the Toronto Sun cuts straight to the point from the first patented Sun-style sentenceragraph:

Colby Rasmus is on the market and has been offered to two teams by the Blue Jays for starting pitching.

Well, OK then. That’s not entirely surprising, and if another team bites with interest in giving up a huge arm for him, I can understand why the club would be comfortable going with Anthony Gose in centre.

That may seem inconsistent to those who’ve noticed how not comfortable I am with the suggestions of having Ryan Goins play second base, but it’s really based on two things: the fact that Gose brings his elite defence to a position that’s more important than second base, and the fact that he’s two-and-a-half years younger than Goins, and having about the same amount of success. In fact, Gose was in New Hampshire a year before Goins, and at three-and-a-half years younger, he put up a .348 wOBA to Goins’ .336. Neither setup is ideal, of course.

Speaking of Rasmus, though, here’s a thought: as we discussed in the last post, the Reds may be looking to deal a starter. One of the possibilities there for them would be moving Homer Bailey rather than keeping him as he heads into his last season before free agency. Billy Hamilton is pencilled in to play centre for Cincinnati, but if they want him to get more seasoning before handing him the job– his line in his first crack at triple-A was just .256/.308/.343– or if they move Brandon Phillips with the thought of shifting Hamilton to second base, maybe Rasmus for Bailey works. Both are in their final arbitration years– with Rasmus projected to make about $3-million less– and they both occupy a position of strength for their current clubs, and would be moving to a position of weakness the the acquiring team in a deal.

Just crazy enough to work? Hmmm…

So… there’s that.

There’s also another interesting angle in Elliott’s latest, but I’ll save that for the next post!