The Mariners outfield is incomplete. Justin Ruggiano is not going to start every day in right field, and while we know there's still more moves to be had, there's become an increasingly large chance that the Mariners might just add a platoon partner to Ruggiano and be done with it all. Maybe that's Nori Aoki and his reverse splits, maybe it's a trade for somebody like Seth Smith, or maybe it's Brad Miller. Yet there's still a name out there that isn't getting mentioned by many, a player whose market has been lukewarm at best.
Followed by attitude issues and an overbearing father throughout his career, it's not a surprise the market has been slower to develop for Colby Rasmus. Now, the Mariners could stand to take advantage of that, as Rasmus is an excellent fit for a gaping hole.
Rasmus, only one year removed from a staggering 4.8 WAR in just 118 games, still remains on the free agent market. Not unlike Michael Saunders, he's had his own set of injury issues, missing an average of 51 games in each of the last two seasons. He's also been wildly inconsistent at the plate, choosing to sacrifice contact for power in more recent years, as three of the last four years have resulted in an OBP under .300. Rasmus' 33% K rate was only a hint better than Mike Zunino's 33.2% K rate in 2014.
Still, Rasmus is only 28, and at this point we pretty much know what he is. Tons of strikeouts, good power, up and down defense in center field. Metrics for his defense have been wildly inconsistent, as part of that 4.8 WAR in 2013 was thanks to a +11.2 UZR, only to be followed by -9.1 in 2014. His career grades out as average in center (-0.3 UZR/150), but it's safe to say his best years are probably behind him -- at least in center field.
Though Rasmus is never going to be an OBP machine, his power is legit, and his biggest asset. Last year, Rasmus had a .467 SLG against RHP (106 wRC+), and in 2013 -- his career year -- Rasmus had a whopping 144 wRC+ against RHP, including a .359 OBP.
The projection for Rasmus is as expected, similar to the line he posted in 2014. Steamer doesn't project a bounceback year, in fact they see a small decline from 2014, which is interesting given that he's only 28. The strikeout rates are concerning, and have no doubt scared some teams off. Steamer projects a few more walks and a few less strikeouts in 2015, but the rates are still on the extreme end -- 28.1% K rate in 2015, but better than his 33% rate in 2014. Still, it's a ton of strikeouts near the bottom of the order, especially when placed right next to Mike Zunino. Even against righties, Rasmus projects to be an all or nothing guy pretty often.
The Mariners need another outfielder to pair with Ruggiano, but they also need insurance for Austin Jackson. Rasmus provides that, and while there's some questions about his defense, it's safe to say he could be an asset in center field if forced into a more regular role there. If Jackson gets hurt or tanks at the plate again, Rasmus could take over, moving Jackson into a part-time role.
Plus, there's unquestionable upside with Rasmus. Though his strikeouts are a major reason why his market has depressed, he's got the potential to mash the hell out of right-handed pitching, and that borderline superstar-ish 2013 is still visible in the rear-view mirror. The Mariners can certainly afford to take on $10 million a year, hold onto all their biggest trade chips, and go into the season with Brad Miller at shortstop, where he retains the most positional value. They'd have a complete outfield with three of the four able to play all three positions, and the right field platoon would be complete.
Would Rasmus sign a deal where he knew he'd be platooned and not playing center field, where he's played almost exclusively throughout his career? I'm not sure. This is more of a sit and wait scenario -- Rasmus has a chance to fall into the M's lap, and if he does, they should be there to snap him up. If there's other suitors pursing Rasmus with three-year deals and guarantees of playing center field, the M's probably can't compete, and that's fine. Rasmus doesn't make or break the M's offseason. In terms of talent and immediate contributions, Rasmus doesn't look a ton better than Nori Aoki or a trade for Seth Smith, but the positional flexibility and upside are tempting.
What do you think? Would you go 2/20 for Colby Rasmus?