Houston Astros, Colby Rasmus agree to one-year deal


The Houston Astros and Colby Rasmus have agreed to a one-year, $8 million deal. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN has confirmed the news.

Rasmus, a 28-year-old outfielder, spent the last three plus years with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was previously with the St. Louis Cardinals after they drafted him in the first-round of the 2005 draft.

In just 346 at-bats in 2014, Rasmus struck out 124 times, provoking articles to discuss the astonishing strikeout prevalence of Rasmus and many of his new teammates with the Astros. These strikeout machines at the plate include Chris Carter and George Springer.

For next season with the Astros, Rasmus figures to be a replacement for the recently dealt Dexter Fowler. He’ll either be an everyday center fielder or a regularly used option. He’s been a primary center fielder throughout his entire professional career. Rasmus doesn’t steal bases, but he does offer athleticism and defensive speed.

That’s what makes some of his horrid defensive metrics so perplexing. Are they because of a lack of focus? Poor offense harming his defense? Who knows, but FanGraphs shows Rasmus put up a -7 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) number in 2014. That number was +7 in 2012 and +11 in 2013. Rasmus also ranked horribly in categories such as instincts, arm strength and arm accuracy.

Rediscovering a 2012 or 2013 level of defense would greatly benefit Houston. Minute Maid Park’s center field is a hugely spacious area with ground probably only comfortable for a Gold Glove speedster. Rasmus will have to improve his effort to lockdown this position in Houston.

On the positive side, Rasmus is a capable power hitter. In 2013, he banged 22 home runs in 417 at-bats and slugged .501. He dipped in 2014, but still belted 18 home runs in 104 games and slugged .448.

Rasmus is also an unpredictable player in nearly every aspect. Here are his batting average numbers over the last three years: .223, .276 and .225. The conclusion from that stretch seems clear–the middle number was an anomaly while the other two showings were the players he really is.

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Not exactly. He hit .251 in his rookie year in St. Louis, acceptable for a newcomer, then .276 in his sophomore season, a statistic that caused Cardinals’ fans to buy in on his potential. His numbers then started to dip and reports of a questionable attitude surfaced. It’s still believed in certain schools of thought that St. Louis moved Rasmus to simply take him out of the clubhouse.

No matter what Rasmus has done, though, he’ll be given an opportunity in Houston. A one-year contract means he can improve his stock when free agency hits in 2016. Houston’s a haven for power hitters and the team appears to be on something of an upswing. If Rasmus can moderately improve his defense and offer an offensive threat, that upswing will continue.

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