Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports.

Blue Jays & Colby Rasmus: To Extend or Not to Extend


So, the New York Yankees keep throwing money around. They  have so much that it makes you wonder if they just print their own. Their latest “splash of cash” was on extending LF Brett Gardner. According to ESPN, Gardner’s contract is as follows: four-years worth $50 million, with a club option for a fifth year. A $2 million buyout clause if the Yankees decide not to exercise the option brings the total value of the deal to $52 million. Gardner does not have a no-trade clause, but the Yankees are obligated to pay him an additional bonus of $1 million in the event they do trade him. The Yankees also brought on a center fielder named Jacoby Ellsbury for 7 years and $153 million. The Texas Rangers just paid $130 million for 7 years of Shin-Soo Choo. Also, in 2012, Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles signed a 7 year/ $91.65 million deal.

The Toronto Blue Jays may find themselves having to make a potentially expensive decision on their own outfielder- Colby Rasmus. Rasmus is set to hit the open market at the end of the 2014 season. In light of the recent cost of talented and comparable players, let’s see if we can figure out what Colby might cost the Jays. (All info via Baseball-Reference.com). These charts are just a small sample of the myriad of data available on any player. That is not even taking into account the various ways of measuring data, etc. depending on who is measuring. But, it does give the average fan an idea of how players stack up to each other.

Colby Rasmus compared to this year’s signings:

Colby Rasmus

Brett Gardner

4 yr/$52m

Shin-Soo Choo

7yr/$130m

Jacoby Ellsbury

7yr/$153m

Adam Jones (signed in 2012)

7yr/$91.65m

Age

27

30

31

30

28

Avg/OBP/SLG

Career:

.248/.317/.436

Career:

.268/.352/.381

Career:

.288/.389/.465

Career:

.297/.350/.439

Career:

.279/.322/.460

HR/RBI

162 gm avg:

23/73

162 gm avg:

6/46

162 gm avg: 20/81

162 gm avg:

15/71

162 gm avg:

24/82

BB %

Career avg:

8.8%

Career avg:

10.3%

Career avg:

12.2%

Career avg:

6.9%

Career avg:

4.6%

SO %

Career avg:

24.2%

Career avg:

17.9%

Career avg:

20.9%

Career avg:

12.8%

Career avg:

19.4%

HR %

Career avg:

3.7%

Career avg:

1.0%

Career avg:

2.8%

Career avg:

2.0%

Career avg:

3.7%

SB/SB%

Career avg:

5.8 SB/62%

Career avg:

26.83 SB/81%

Career avg:

12.2 SB/73%

Career avg:

34.43 SB/84%

Career avg:

9.25 SB/71%

oWAR

(offensive wins above replacement)

Career avg:

2.16 oWAR

Career avg:

1.73 oWAR

Career avg:

3.01 oWAR

Career avg:

2.57 oWAR

Career avg:

2.6 oWAR

*increasing every year

dWAR

(defensive wins above replacement)

Career avg:

.58 dWAR

Career avg:

1.42 dWAR

Career avg:

-0.45 dWAR

Career avg:

.59 dWAR

Career avg:

.09 dWAR

 

Rasmus is an interesting fit in this group of “elite” outfielders. He has a lower career average. He is in the middle of the pack in walk percentage and strikes out most often. He has the same homerun percentage as Adam Jones, which leads the pack. Apparently, Rasmus is the worst least effective base stealer of the group. His oWAR is better than Gardner but well below the higher paid members of this study. Yet, his dWAR is almost identical to Ellsbury who is the highest paid. As well, it is important to remember that Rasmus doesn’t have the history of injuries of Gardner and certainly not that of Ellsbury.

Based on this, Colby Rasmus could command a salary that is somewhere in the middle of all of these. Realistically speaking, he’ll end up somewhere around the Adam Jones deal. But, considering he is making $7 million for this season, Garnder’s deal doesn’t seem like it would be that bad…for the Jays. Rasmus will undoubtedly be seeking more. And, he’ll more than likely get it. If not with Toronto, then somewhere else. Alex Anthopoulos might want to listen carefully to Rasmus, considering how desperate the Jays may actually be. More on that later.

The list of potential free agents for the end of the 2014 season looks very promising if you are Colby Rasmus. Colby finds himself in a large group of 30+ year olds. At 28, he’ll be the youngest. That in and of itself will help bump up his dollar amount. I’ve whittled the list down to those who may provide the most competition for Rasmus in the free agent market. My choices are not exhaustive, but they do represent the bigger and more comparable names. So, let’s take a look.

Colby Rasmus vs comparable potential free agents at end of 2014 season: (list of potential free agents from MLBTR)

2013 Salary

Colby Rasmus

$7m

Chris Young

$7.25m

Nelson Cruz

$8m

Melky Cabrera

$8m

Nick Markakis

$17.5m

Age

27

30

33

29

30

Avg/OBP/SLG

Career:

.248/.317/.436

Career:

.235/.315/.431

Career:

.268/.327/.495

Career:

.284/.337/.409

Career:

.292/.360/.441

HR/RBI

162 gm avg:

23/73

162 gm avg:

24/73

162 gm avg:

32/99

162 gm avg:

11/68

162 gm avg:

17/81

BB %

Career avg:

8.8%

Career avg:

10.0%

Career avg:

7.9%

Career avg:

7.3%

Career avg:

9.3%

SO %

Career avg:

24.2%

Career avg:

22.9%

Career avg:

22.3%

Career avg:

12.1%

Career avg:

13.1%

HR %

Career avg:

3.7%

Career avg:

3.6%

Career avg:

4.9%

Career avg:

1.7%

Career avg:

2.4%

SB/SB%

Career avg:

5.8 SB/62%

Career avg:

15.25 SB/76%

Career avg:

7.2 SB/74%

Career avg:

9.6 SB/73%

Career avg:

7.1 SB/71%

oWAR

(offensice wins above replacement)

Career avg:

2.16 oWAR

Career avg:

1.36 oWAR

Career avg:

1.42 oWAR

Career avg:

1.64 oWAR

Career avg:

2.84 oWAR

dWAR

(defensive wins above replacement)

Career avg:

.58 dWAR

Career avg:

.61 dWAR

Career avg:

-0.53 dWAR

Career avg:

-0.2 dWAR

Career avg:

-0.53 dWAR

 

So, there you have it. Rasmus comes out looking pretty good when compared to these numbers. Again, his average is not stellar, but his power numbers are near tops. He still strikes out more than most, but his walk percentage is fair. We already knew about his base running, so that is not a surprise. But, what stands out to me are his WAR numbers.

A case can be made that he would headline this class of free agents, if for no other reason than he is a lot younger than the others. If I am the GM of the Jays, I would be talking to his agents rather hurriedly to lock up Colby Rasmus. Since he is the best of what there is, there will be other teams entering the fray to sign him over next winter. I guess the good news for the Blue Jays is: the Yankees aren’t likely to enter the conversation. We all know how AA feels about bidding wars. So, the prudent thing would be to lock him up now.  What if that dreaded contract year effect hits? The free agent frenzy around Rasmus coming off a career year would be insane.

So, what would it take? If I were Colby Rasmus, I’d be super excited about testing the free agent market. And, I’d be shooting for way more than Gardner. I’d be starting with 7 yrs/ $115m. That breaks down to an AAV of just north of $14m per year. Considering qualifying offers this past winter ($14.1m), that may actually be conservative.  On the pay scale, this would put him below Ellsbury and Choo but above Jones and Gardner. Sounds fair. Except…

If I’m Toronto, I’d be shooting for a dollar amount closer to Adam Jones’. Being that Colby Rasmus would be entering his prime years (28-33), if AA is going to stick to his 5 year policy guideline, the dollar amount will have to be even higher. Since the Blue Jays do not (yet) give 7 year contracts, a 5 year contract would have to have an AAV of roughly $20m. That does not seem likely. Rasmus is not the best CF and should not be paid like he is. He certainly won’t command a monster $30m/yr contract like Mike Trout.

But, with contracts coming off the books soon (Mark Buerhle, Cabrera, etc.) and no real heavy commitments beyond the next season or two, the Blue Jays could afford a higher price tag. Consider this: Rasmus may not be the best CF in baseball, but he will certainly be the best available next offseason. Another point to consider is that the Blue Jays can also push the idea that with a 5 year deal, at age 33, Rasmus can set himself up for one last pay day. I wouldn’t take that gamble if I’m Rasmus, but…AA could make that argument. Regardless, AA will be paying for Colby Rasmus’ prime years. That won’t come cheap.

But, let’s say the Blue Jays do not sign Rasmus to an extension this season. He leaves. Melky Cabrera probably won’t be back either. The Melk Man would have to put up a monster season in order to prove his $8m worth, let alone another contract. Granted, he is healthy this year. Having said that, do we want the future of the club resting on Anthony Gose in CF? Do we want 2/3 of the outfield manned by Gose, Moises Sierra and/or Kevin Pillar?

Just for the simple fact that what we’d be left with without Colby Rasmus is unbearable, AA needs to lock him up NOW. Given the approach Anthopoulos has taken thus far, he may be inclined to take a wait and see approach. He may not feel such urgency. After all, behind Gose et al, we have D.J. Davis on his way up (assuming all goes well). So, there are other options. The problem lies in the fact that those players are NOT Colby Rasmus in his prime.

Fans will get a very clear indication as to what Anthopoulos’ plan for the future of this club is. Locking up Rasmus shows that they are interested in winning now and the near future. Letting him walk means we are in for a long wait.

Next Blue Jays Game View full schedule »
Tuesday, Sep 22 Sep7:10at Tampa Bay RaysBuy Tickets

Tags: Colby Rasmus Toronto Blue Jays

  • Andrew van Laar

    The one issue for me and it always has been this, is what Rasmus will show up this year? 2010 and 2013 he had pretty darn good years. However, in both those years, he was incredibly streaky going month to month. He also has his flaws (inabilty to not strikeout or steal a base). 2011 and 2012 he had pretty bad years.

    If I am AA, I do not want to risk giving this guy a big deal prior to the season starting and not knowing what Colby I am going to get. I would want to see how he is doing after a few months and be sure and maybe pay a little bit more for that assurance. If he deems that Colby is the 2011 and 2012 version, maybe trade him if the team is out of contention and Gose shows inprovment this year to take the reigns in CF. If he is playing spectacularily, sign him to an extension if you can.

    No matter what I don’t think AA can commit to him right now. There has to be a prove yourself to me and we will pay you attitude because right now, I do not think he has done enough to warrant a big pay day.

    • Jack Stevenson

      Totally agree Andrew. I don’t know how many times I have watched Rasmus
      looking foolish striking out or throwing a ball into the dirt from
      center field. Our toolsy outfielder is missing several of the tools that
      others on these lists have. Yes he can get to a ball well and hit the
      odd long HR but he is unreliable and I don’t think has the work ethic or
      grey matter I would like to see in a Jay .IMO trade him for pitching
      and let Gose and Sierra play. These 2 add up to Rasmus easily and with more potential going forward.

      • brad

        You can’t just “add up” players though. If Gose could play the field and run the bases and Sierra could do the hitting, you may have a player of about Rasmus’ caliber(better baserunning and arm strength but less power and slightly worse range/jump)….but that’s not how it works. If you have Gose and Sierra split a season in CF what you are going to get(aside from absolutely horrifying CF defense from Sierra) is a lower average, less HRs and less RBIs from the CF position. I wouldn’t necessarily mind trading Rasmus for pitching if it doesn’t look like he will agree to a reasonable extension at the end of the season(note: shouldn’t look into extending him until then…. if he’s good this year pony up because it’s a trend and if he’s bad, try to get him on the cheap) but there needs to be a replacement brought in because they don’t have MLB caliber internal options.

        • Jack Stevenson

          IMO overall Gose is the better CF defensivel . Being faster, he gets to ball as well or better than Rasmus but has less experience out there. Throws much better. On the bases there is no contest. Rasmus, except for a few hot streaks, has had some dismal months hitting just above or below the Mendoza line. Gose also bats left and average wise, is likely to match Rasmus eventually.
          Sierra on the other hand looks like a doubles machine with potential BA up near .300. Both are younger than Rasmus and paid much less now and in the short term. I would play Gose most of the time in CF using Sierra sometimes against lefties and as DH platooning with Lind. If the Jays were prepared to give up JPA’s HRS they shouldn’t miss Rasmus.

          • Andrew van Laar

            OMG… Someone who agrees with me! This is a first on the Rasmus issue lol. The only thing is the Jays will need someone off the bench to play CF and Pillar is the only guy who can atm. Sierra, JB and Melky cannot play center so that would be a concern.

          • http://jaysfromthecouch.blogspot.ca/ Shaun Doyle

            You all bring up good points. There are very few players with NO flaws. Except maybe Mike Trout. Colby brings his share of flaws. But if you compare him to the other available options, he is the better option for a win now approach. I don’t mind handing over the CF to one of the others mentioned above, but if we’re going to win now, Colby is the man. I see the point in waiting a bit, but then you get into not wanting to distract from season, blah, blah, blah. Also, if he does have a big year he’ll be more determined to test free agency at the ending of the season. The decision is not a slam dunk either way. But, how they handle it will tell us which direction or “mode” the team is going in.

          • brad

            I think Gose has the potential to be better than Rasmus in the field but there’s no way he is right now. Gose gets OK jumps and takes OK routes. Rasmus gets great jumps and takes excellent(almost perfect) routes. That being said, Colby’s arm is horrid and Gose’s is above average.

            As far as hitting, if we are talking long term projections then MAYBE Gose and/or Sierra can measure up in the box. For the next two seasons though(the Jays competitive window) I would be astonished if Gose matched Rasmus .276 average from last year(a feat he has only accomplished one time in the MINORS). Yes Rasmus is a streaky hitter but just for a little bit of context, last July in 26 games he hit as many homers and drove in almost as many runs as Gose has in his 108 big league games. I would put Gose’s defensive cieling just above where Rasmus is now… with his offensive ceiling being a .260 ish hitter with 40 steals(which is about the same value Rasmus brought to the dish last year)….. with a sub .240 avg in AAA last year and a horrible stealing efficiency I would be against handing the keys over quite yet

            I really do like Sierra but he can’t play CF….at all. I could see him as a replacement for Melky Cabrera next year and the other side of a DH platoon with Lind this year but there is only one player on the team other than Rasmus who can play CF.

            With the HRs gone from JP they would miss the power even more. Let’s not forget that JPA was the worst hitter in history last year and the worst defender in the league at his position.

  • Pingback: Great Toronto Blue Jays Links For February 25, 2014 | Toronto Blue Jays Dugout Online | Toronto Blue Jays Blog

  • bob l.

    in a perfect world, rasmus plays well in april and may and gose shows the ability to hit consistantly. at which point you trade rasmus for a minor league outfielder and what everelse you can get. then we can bring up this same topic years down the road but with gose’s name in the title.

    • http://jaysfromthecouch.blogspot.ca/ Shaun Doyle

      In a perfect world, the Jays are on first place.

  • Pingback: Could Diamondbacks and Blue Jays Be Possible Trade Partners? - Jays Journal - A Toronto Blue Jays Fan Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and More

  • Rui Hanazawa

    Maybe I’m not seeing the same thing every one is, but I think very highly of Colby. We are just starting to see this guy being polished. Defensively he’s got a great jump, can run and make solid plays. He does make a few stupid throwing errors but that could be worked out. It’s his power that is undeniable and maybe debatable. When he turns it, they are well gone more so than Bautista or Edwin. He’s easily the 3rd most feared hitter in our line up with that uppercut golf swing of his. I’m surprised he only hits about 20 homers in his career, he should be pushing 30-40 and he will when he gets in his prime. I don’t see Gose so highly as every one else. Gose can field and run better than Rasmus but that’s it. He can’t replace that power so why not keep them both. A centre fielder isn’t likely going to gun down any runners from 3rd. I agree with Shaun completely. The Jays need to sign the kid to a 5-7 year deal. Rasmus at centre, Gose at left field. He’s a keeper, the only obstacle is that dad of his. Nothing more annoying in sports is to have mommy (Vince Carter’s mom) and daddy expressing self serving opinions. One of the reasons I feel we didn’t splurge is to create financial flexibility in offering Rasmus an extension and we must. The only problem I see is the Jays talking to him in one ear and dad the other the ear. The real question will be how much and for how long.

  • Momus

    I would wait a bit for a couple of reasons:
    1) Which version of Rasmus is going to show up this year – the solid all-around play of last year and 2010 or the absolutely terrible play of 2011 and 2012?
    2) Which way does the Jays’ season seem to be going? If they falter early then AA should be looking to trade away all of the veterans and start reloading for another shot in a few years. Try to trade Rasmus and if no one offers enough give him a qualifying offer at the end of the season and take the draft pick.