The Tampa Bay Rays have agreed to a one-year, $5 million contract with free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus. He has a chance to earn an additional $2 million in incentives. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Rays released outfielder Jason Coats.
In signing with the Rays, Rasmus is reunited with his former hitting coach from Toronto in Chad Mottola, who was in part responsible for Rasmus’s renaissance at the plate. The duo will hope to repeat their success in 2017.
Rasmus: "I'm feeling good. My mind is in a good place and I'm just going to try and keep it that way and grind out the season."— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) January 30, 2017
Interesting notes from the Rays press release:
Over his 95 starts (75-LF, 14-CF, 6-RF) last season, Rasmus tied for third among AL outfielders with 13 assists, trailing Adam Eaton (White Sox) and Mookie Betts (Red Sox). According to FanGraphs, he ranked fourth among major league outfielders with 20 Defensive Runs Saved, behind Betts (32), Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (25) and Toronto’s Kevin Pillar (21). Defensive Runs Saved attempts to calculate how many runs a player saved or cost his team in the field compared to the average player at his position.
If not for the time missed in 2016, Rasmus feels he would have been deserving of the Gold Glove award, as relayed in the press conference quotes by Marc Topkin:
"My dad raised me up just playing (all out), that's just how I play. It would've been cool to get the Gold Glove. I understand my numbers might have been a little bit better, but I didn't finish out the season, I got hurt, I had that cyst (in his ear) going on, but that's baseball, you know. I don't have no sweat about it. It's all good, I'm going to try to get myself ready to suit up and get ready to ball out this year.''
Speculation led many to believe the Rays would release a reliever instead of OF Jason Coats, who was claimed off waivers as the replacement for recently traded Mikie Mahtook, but that did not come to pass. Coats unfortunately tore his UCL over the off-season while he was on waivers and will require Tommy John surgery.
The Rays also acquired outfielder Mallex Smith this offseason, who meets the team’s depth requirements, should Rasmus not be ready for the season.
He may have been available to the Rays at bargain prices due to injury, but Rasmus believes he will be ready for the new season regardless:
New #Rays OF Rasmus says recovery going well from hip + sports hernia surgeries, may be behind in spring, expects to be ready for 4/2 opener— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) January 30, 2017
Rasmus: "I plan to be ready to go. It may be a little later in the spring, but I want to make sure I do right by myself and the team."— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) January 30, 2017
#Rays Bloom says they are comfortable with Rasmus rehab, know he'll be behind in spring, but "are optimistic" he'll be ready for 4/2 opener— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) January 30, 2017
Rasmus may be a self described redneck with long hair, but he also seems like a genuine guy interested in helping others, and should be a great addition to the Rays clubhouse. His recent charitable work was noted in the Rays press release:
Early last season, Rasmus launched a new charity initiative, “Hitters for Heroes,” in which he pledged to donate $1,000 for every home run he hit to Team Rubicon, a disaster response nonprofit that utilizes the skills of military veterans to provide relief following natural disasters.