Sep 17, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus (28) watches his solo home run in the fourth inning against the New York Yankees at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Should the Blue Jays Extend Colby Rasmus in Lieu of Pursuing Pitching Help?

During the height of baseball’s Winter Meetings, it may have been easy to overlook the excellent piece that Shi Davidi wrote for Sportsnet on the impending outfield situation for the Toronto Blue Jays and its possible impact on, not only the club’s offseason endeavors next winter, but also while discussing potential trades on this year’s hot stove. To sum it up, Davidi points to the team’s payroll commitments already on the books, coupled with the Blue Jays need to add pitching, and finally topped off with the impending free agency for both Colby Rasmus and Melky Cabrera, all coalescing into what appears to be the perfect storm.

As Davidi notes, the loss of Cabrera can be mitigated if Kevin Pillar, Anthony Gose, or Moises Sierra step up and show they can handle a full-time role. Gose’s development can also help to determine whether or not the Blue Jays get serious about extending Colby Rasmus beyond this season. The price of doing so will likely be much higher than the Blue Jays, or most teams, would be willing to pay for Rasmus, but the dearth of center field talent in next season’s free agent pool is going to determine a hefty market value for Rasmus.

That plays an important part in any decisions that Alex Anthopoulos has to make this winter. Committing further funds to the rotation, which may now appears necessary, may also prevent the Blue Jays from retaining Rasmus or pursuing a viable replacement from a field that includes only Brett Gardner as a candidate that would remotely qualify under the tag “viable”. That pins an awful lot of hope of Anthony Gose becoming the player we’ve envisioned over the last several seasons.

It also means that the legions of fans chanting to trade Jose Bautista may be seeing precisely the reason why the Blue Jays haven’t pursued that angle. Yes, Bautista’s contract and production make him an ideal trade bait if Toronto were going to punch out of the race this season, any trade would not only have to bring back a Major League quality pitcher, but also an outfielder or two that can be counted on to step up to the Major League level in 2015 or earlier. Friendly contract or not, that may be a fairly hefty return fee for a power hitting outfielder that has watched each of his last two seasons end early with wrist and hip injuries respectively.

Rasmus will be 28-years-old midway through the 2014 season, and if the Blue Jays are serious about pursuing the contention window as it sits, they may have to seek an internal option for their pitching staff and extend Rasmus instead. Of course, the team could pursue a trade for an outfielder as well and settle their need for pitching on the free agent market, but are they going to find a 4-win outfielder via trade at a cost that is going to allow such a move to be made? Dexter Fowler was the only viable trade option but he’s not nearly the defensive outfielder Rasmus is and has already been moved from Colorado to Houston.

In the end, it becomes a very difficult situation to be in for the Blue Jays. Perhaps Alex Anthopoulos misjudged the window of contention when he flushed the farm system plan in hopes of the big moves last winter. Perhaps there is no clear cut path to keeping the window of contention open.

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  • Shariq M

    Stop cutting Rogers so much slack already! If any other club was involved they WOULD HAVE extended Colby already. He’s be the only bright spot (possible along with EE, who i personally think failed) in the entire league for offensive production and also compared to overall players aside from Casey Jannsen.

  • RyanMueller

    I think that AA will wait until ST to extend Colby. See if he comes to ST as the same player he was at the end of the year. On point that should be made here is Colby’s past and how TO got him. Maybe Rasmus would want to stay with an organization that has show patience and has allowed him to work through things they way he wanted. Also this organization hasn’t thrown Colby’s family under the bus the same way that the Cards did. Remember that Colby’s father was suppose to be a thorn in the side of the coaching staff.
    Gose and Rasmus are not the same type of players, so I think it is unfair to come them. Rasmus has more power than Gose and is a better fielder. Gose has better speed, OF arm, and base stealing skills. I am not sure either will ever hit for average or have high OBP or OPS. This team needs to get on base more and neither of these guys fit that mold.

  • fmradioguy

    I really think they should wait on extending Rasmus. He finally put it together (for the most part) last year but did so largely under the guidance of Chad Motolla. How will Rasmus react to that? Colby seems to need constant guidance from someone he trusts. He finally found that with the Jays in Motolla. Wil he lose focus and go off course again with his departure? It’s a conundrum for AA. Lock him up now, and you risk a lousy contract if he reverts to his underachieving ways from every other season with the Jays. But wait too long to trade him, and his trade value might go down significantly. But trade him, and you rely on Gose, whose likely production over the course of a full season is unknown..

  • raffa

    If the budget truly dictates an “either or situation”. Then:
    we really blew it with the moves last year.
    With such a budget the Jays should be in full Tampa Rays mode and let prospects develop and contribute while controllable.
    There is either a miracle recovery next year by current pitchers and we are quite decent .. or we need to blow it up and wait for prospects (like we shoulda last year).
    Keep the dough to extend Colby – now or in spring… better odds of paying off than one pitcher in todays market.

  • JaysHopeful

    Extend Colby now while he’s still reasonably priced. Give him a 5 year 10 mil contract. If his production remains at the ’13 level then he’s a steal for that price. If his production goes up, it’s a bonus; he can become trade-bait before the end of the contract and he becomes too expensive. If he regresses, he’s still a near gold-glove caliber centerfielder with power.

    Colby’s a bit of a head-case. He succeeds when he is put in a position where he can just be Colby. Pay him for who he is, not what he is “capable” of becoming. Say “Be Colby,” bat him 7th, let him lope around the outfield, and don’t worry if he averages 150 strikeouts a season.

    • JaysHopeful

      * 5 year 10 mil a year contract – 50 mil total.

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