Is Blue Jays Colby Rasmus Worth Adam Jones Money?

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May 31, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus (28) after a two-run home run during the second inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

During his most recent mailbag at BlueJays.com, Gregor Chisholm was posed a question in regards to where the Toronto Blue Jays stand on extending Colby Rasmus. In responding, Chisholm explained the Blue Jays are in a wait and see mode, preferring to see what kind of start Colby gets off to and hoping to see a more consistent performance before offering him a big payday.

However, there was one sentence that caught be off guard and warranted a deeper look.

"If he’s able to stay healthy and consistently perform, the contract demands are only going to increase and certainly could eclipse the six-year, $85.5 million contract that Adam Jones signed with Baltimore midway through the 2012 season."

At the time of his signing, Jones was in the midst of a season in which he slashed .287/.334/.505 with a career-high 34 home runs, 103 runs scored, and 82 RBI. Jones would place sixth in the MVP balloting, while also winning his second gold glove and making a second All-Star appearance. He would follow that up with a .285/.318/.811 year in 2013, also with an All-Star nod and a 13th place finish in the MVP balloting. Jones also had three solid baseline years prior to signing his deal, so the Baltimore Orioles knew exactly what to expect from him.

Therein will lie the challenge for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Jones and Rasmus are about a year apart in age, so using Jones as a model isn’t a bad choice. However, the consistency of Adam Jones, prior to his contract, is what the Blue Jays are looking to see from Colby Rasmus prior to committing to him long-term. Colby stepped up in a big way in 2013, prior to his injury, but he’s been a marvel of inconsistency throughout his career.

But then again, maybe there is more to look at here than shear offensive numbers.

Adam Jones gets a lot of publicity of his gold glove work in center field, but if you ask any self-respecting authority on defense, Jones is consistently overrated in that regard, mostly due to the 66 outfield assists that he’s put up over his career. However, if you dig deeper, Jones is rated at a -14 Defensive Runs Saved by the Fielding Bible and sports a career UZR of -26.2.

On the other hand, Colby Rasmus has been consistently underrated for his defense. While he doesn’t put up the flashy assist numbers that Jones does, having accumulated only 16 in his career, Rasmus outpaces his drastically in both DRS (15) and UZR (7.4).

So, using FanGraphs nifty value tool, we see a slight shift in overall value for both gentlemen. Despite playing nearly 2 seasons more than Rasmus, Jones has been worth only 3.8 wins than Colby for their careers. Given Colby’s outstanding 2013 season, FanGraphs translates that value as Rasmus having been worth $59.1 million over his career, whereas Jones (with his extra time) has been worth $76.5 million. That lends some creedance to Chisholm’s thoughts that Rasmus may actually surpass Jones’ deal, especially given the shift in the market and the fact that Rasmus will be the best true center fielder, if not the best available outfielder period, when he hits the market next season.

That all said, the Blue Jays run a risk in playing a wait and see approach. They could cost themselves money in the long-run but letting Colby get closer to free agency. But things always feel better when you place your money on a sure bet, and there is no doubt that Alex Anthopoulos wants to hedge his.

So Blue Jays fans, do you sign Colby Rasmus now or do you play the game and see what happens?

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