Baltimore Orioles Sign Colby Rasmus to Minor League Deal

TORONTO, ON - JUNE 13: Colby Rasmus
TORONTO, ON - JUNE 13: Colby Rasmus /

The Baltimore Orioles signed a left-handed hitting outfielder on Wednesday and one that has experience playing in the American League East.

The Baltimore Orioles signed Colby Rasmus on Wednesday to a minor-league deal, as first reported by Mark Feinsand.

Rasmus and the Orioles were first linked on Wednesday morning, and those talks quickly gained traction to the deal. Now, the question becomes what kind of player are the Baltimore Orioles getting in Rasmus.

Rasmus was a first-round draft pick (of course he was) of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2005 straight out of high school.

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Rasmus broke into the major leagues in 2009 as a 22-year-old with St. Louis and finished eighth in the Rookie of the Year voting.

In 2011, he was the central piece sent to the Toronto Blue Jays in a trade that also involved Octavio Dotel, Edwin Jackson and Corey Patterson.

In 2015, he signed with the Houston Astros, where he played two seasons before signing with the Tampa Bay Rays last year.

In 37 games for the Rays, Rasmus’ stats included hitting .281/.318/.579 with nine home runs, seven doubles, 23 runs batted in and 17 runs scored in 129 at-bats. However, Rasmus then got hurt, suffering a hip injury.

On July 13, Rasmus announced he was taking a leave of absence from the game of baseball. As a result, Rasmus raised many questions about his desire to continue his MLB career.

As for Rasmus’ career stats, if you were expecting a high on-base guy, look away.

Rasmus is a career .242/.311/.438 hitter. He does not have a lot of speed but has exceeded 20 home runs four times in nine seasons.

A major plus for the Orioles is that Rasmus has experience playing all of the outfield positions. He has played 796 games in center field, 191 in left field and 67 games in right field.

Overall, his defense is considered a strong part of his game, with a 4.3 dWAR over his career. His offensive WAR is 15.8, with a high of 3.5 during his days in Toronto.

So, what does this mean for the Orioles? It could mean a lot, or very little. As a minor league deal, the Orioles do not have to have him on the Orioles Opening Day roster, although I would expect there to be an opt-out clause in his contract.

The Orioles do not have a lot of outfield depth for Triple-A Norfolk. Cedric Mullins plays center field, but he is likely ticketed for Double-A Bowie to start the season. Rasmus would provide a capable center fielder for Norfolk, and an insurance policy should Adam Jones get hurt.

One concern the Orioles have is who their backup center fielder is. Can Austin Hays play center field? That is one thing they hope to find out in spring training.

Joey Rickard can play center field, but he may not make the roster. Same with Craig Gentry. The other major plus is that Rasmus is a left-handed hitter, which the Orioles sorely needed. If he is in the majors, I would expect him in a platoon role.

Next: Orioles Moving on From Three Free Agent Pitchers Including Alex Cobb

The Baltimore Orioles are building their depth as the season approaches. While I believe this will keep the Orioles from signing any other left-handed hitting outfielders, I could be wrong there. Rasmus isn’t Carlos Gonzalez, so don’t expect that. He is a left-handed depth piece for the team to consider moving forward.