The Baltimore Orioles chose to sign Colby Rasmus to fill their outfield need, but they should have signed Jon Jay instead.
The Baltimore Orioles had a lot of needs this offseason, one of them being a left-handed hitting outfielder. To fill that need, the Orioles elected to sign Colby Rasmus to a one-year deal worth $3 million if he makes the major league team and $2 million in incentives.
It’s a cheap deal honestly, it’s not really one to make much of a fuss over. At the end of the day, a $3 million deal (potentially $5 million) is chump change for a major league team.
But just recently, outfielder Jon Jay signed a one-year, $3 million deal with $1.5 million in incentives with the Kansas City Royals, and that’s who the Baltimore Orioles should have signed instead.
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I mean, at the end of the day, we’re talking about two fairly minor players. Neither Rasmus or Jay would be the difference between the Baltimore Orioles going to a World Series and not. But Rasmus is not the type of hitter the Orioles needed, while Jay is.
Rasmus is a high-strikeout, low-average, decent-power guy. In his last full season in the majors, which was 2015 with the Houston Astros, Rasmus slashed .238/.314/.475 with 25 home runs, 67 runs, and 61 RBIs. That’s a perfectly useful season for an MLB player, but it’s also the best season he’s had in a long time, and it’s probably his ceiling at this point.
In 37 games with the Tampa Bay Rays last year, Rasmus slashed .281/.318/.579, and while that may sound promising, it’s important to remember two things. First, it’s an incredibly small sample size of just 37 games. And second, that .281 average came despite a 34.9% strikeout rate, and alongside a .368 BABIP and a .239 xAVG.
Which means we can probably expect a .230s average with 20-25 home runs from Rasmus if he gets a full season as a member of the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles are already loaded with high-strikeout, low-average, high-power players. Rasmus is just another one.
Enter Jon Jay, who slashed .296/.374/.375 with two home runs, 65 runs, and 34 RBIs last year. Those numbers aren’t going to jump off the page, but they’re something the Baltimore Orioles sorely need. A guy who can hit for a good average and is good at getting on base. Jay doesn’t strikeout much and he’s got a solid walk rate, which is the type of player the Orioles need leading off.
You could try and argue whether Jay or Rasmus is the better player, they each have their own specific skill sets, but Jay is the type of player the Orioles needed, Rasmus is not.
And it’s not like the Orioles can use money as an excuse. Assuming both players make their major league teams and gain all of their incentives, Rasmus will actually earn more money this year than Jay.
The Orioles could have easily signed Jay to essentially the same deal they signed Rasmus to, and they would’ve gained a player with a skill set they needed. But they didn’t, and that was a mistake of shortsightedness.