The future of center field

When Colby Rasmus grounded out to end last night’s game, in a rather ugly at bat, it seemed to signal for some the final nail in the coffin for Rasmus’ future in Toronto.

While I don’t necessarily disagree, there’s certainly the feel that he’s gone at the end of the year, I wonder about some of the reasoning people provide. Namely, that he’s going to cost too much.

I really question exactly what Rasmus will get in free agency. Sure, he plays a premium defensive position, but how well does he play it and will he continue to be able to handle CF going into the future? He’s been pretty bad according to UZR/150 and DRS this year, and has had mixed results over his career, posting a 0.2 UZR/150 and 11 DRS.

The eye test defence seems to be inconclusive as well. He can cover a surprisingly good amount of ground but he seems to often get beat by balls hit over his head. He also has a questionable arm and has missed his fair share of targets.

At the plate, he’s really had only two good, BABIP-fuelled seasons. This year he’s batted to a .322 wOBA and has been exactly league average according to wRC+, which is at 100. Three of the past four years, assuming he doesn’t go on a tear down the stretch (note: please do Colby!) he’s sported an OBP on the wrong side of .300. He continues to sport prodigious power, with a .228 ISO so far this year, after posting a .225 ISO last year.

And his splits seem to demonstrate he’s not an everyday starter, and needs someone to hide him from lefties.

Rasmus has also missed time with injuries the past couple of years.

Then there’s his dad, who once again is spouting stupidity.

What he does have going for him is his age. Rasmus is days away from turning 28, which means he’ll be quite young for a center fielder.

So wrap that all together and what do you get? A young and extremely powerful, extremely strikeout prone center fielder with questionable defence, two of five seasons above average offensively, a certain platoon split issue, and a small, albeit significant injury history.

I certainly don’t see the Ellsbury-esque deal some were thinking it’d take last year. I could see him take a shorter term deal with the hopes of getting another chance to cash in, or possibly sign something longer, but for a fairly low (relatively speaking) AAV.

If it’s the former, which I’d suspect, it could behoove the Jays to consider that. Despite just ragging on him for an entire post, I’ve always liked Cletus. If you could do two or three years plus an option Rasmus could provide a more palatable bridge to prospect Dalton Pompey than some Anthony Gose-Kevin Pillar platoon.

The priority, of course, should be left fielder Melky Cabrera first. 

Either way, methinks either Gose or Rasmus is gone by the time 2015 gets underway. It makes no sense to have to left-handed center fielders on the roster. To me, it’s a question of how much Rasmus costs vs. how much they could get for Gose, who has had a decentish season in the bigs.

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