On May 15th the Toronto Blue Jays placed Colby Rasmus on the DL with hamstring tightness. Rasmus had been dealing with the tightness which caused him to miss a few games in April and again in May. The Blue Jays wanted to make a move as they needed the bench spot with Dioner Navarro also nursing some tighness. Going into the 15th the Jays where 20-21 sitting in 4th place in the AL East and 1.5 games back of the first place Baltimore Orioles. To replace Rasmus the Blue Jays recalled 23 year old CF Anthony Gose.
Gose is an excellent defender and with his speed he could be a 4th OF no matter how his bat develops. However in his first two looks in the MLB he has had SO rates of 31.2% & 24.4% and with poor hitting/walk rates posted OBP’s of .303 & .283. The key to Gose sticking in the bigs is him getting on base as with his speed he can bring a lot of value. The interesting thing is that for the first time Gose has looked like a real major league player. He is patient at the plate (15.9% walk rate), getting hits & timely bunts and all around he has looked very good on defense. Having a .405 OBP looks good on anyone which is of course will level off in due time but it has cause a lot of people to forget about Rasmus.
Anytime one of your top players goes on the DL, its a huge bonus when his replacement helps you forget you lost a major piece. Thats right lets not forget that Rasmus is one of the Blue Jays top players. Gose has only played 15 games in 2014 and the results have been very encouraging as he has been unspectacular in the minors which in turn has tarnished his previous “top prospect” label. It is very encouraging to see his progress and at 23 he still has a lot of potential to go. Right now he is showing what could be to come and its promising.
Lets move over to Rasmus, who in 2013 was fantastic putting up 4.6 WAR, great defense, a .276 avg, 22 HR and a tidy 126 OPS+. His production ranked him #6 amongst CF in 2013 and he accomplished that in only 118 games. Rasmus is FA at the end of the 2014 and he might want to test free agency. He is a confusing player and I understand why fans get down on him at times. He strikes-out a ton with a career average of nearly 25% which was a career worst 29.5% in 2013. It can be really frustrating to see him strike-out on a terrible pitch when he needed to deliver a hit. However the flip side is that when Rasmus gets hot, he can help carry the team offensively. Additionally he is an excellent defender which makes him a very valuable player.
If the Blue Jays do not extend him and he chooses free agency, Rasmus will receive a very large contract probably in the $15M per year range over 4-5 years. Paying Rasmus $75 million will probably make a lot of fans question the decision but at 28 in 2015 Rasmus will be a power hitting, plus defender in his prime years. Like a lot of players there is risk here. If Rasmus keeps striking-out at rates around 30% he could see his OBP suffer but teams will be paying for the Home Runs and he hits around 24 per season. There is a real chance that the Blue Jays do not extend Rasmus and he goes to free agency. Really its his chance to potentially see a windfall upwards of $75M in a poor FA pool.
However its way to early for Jays fans to be calling for a trade of Rasmus. Even if Gose continues to improve and is the heir in CF for 2015 the Blue Jays are unlikely to trade Rasmus. It is possible Rasmus could be part of a deal that brings the Blue Jays a Starting Pitcher but generally teams are looking for prospects over a half season from a pending FA. Alex Anthopoulos highly values extra picks and would be more likely to offer Rasmus a 1-year qualifing offer as Rasmus would turn it down gaining the Blue Jays most likely an extra 1st round draft pick. As frustrating as Rasmus can be at times, he is right now a better player then Gose and will return to CF once healthy. There is a chance that Gose goes back to AAA and in the past he has not taken the demotions well, he believes he is a big league player and he probably is but right now Rasmus is the big man in CF. Of course once Gose regresses a little most fans might be calling for a Rasmus extension but long-term Gose looks to be one hell of a 4th outfielder off the bench or the makings of a great CF for years to come. Hopefully its the later but don’t let 44 good plate appearances shadow the fact that Rasmus has proven to be a valuable contributor.
It will be interesting to see what the Blue Jays do when Rasmus returns in a week or so. The most likely candidates right now to be demoted are: Kevin Pillar, Erik Kratz and Anthony Gose. Pillar & Gose both have been nice additions to the bench and Kratz has been working really well with J.A. Happ. Demoting Kratz would seem like the obvious choice as the Blue Jays have 3 catchers but all 3 right now are playing important roles.