How Will Unfortunate End To 2013 Affect Colby Rasmus' Contract Talks With Toronto Blue Jays?

By Thom Tsang
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Colby Rasmus is going to get paid — and soon.

That much is for certain, and the Toronto Blue Jays know it. How much isn’t something they’ve discussed yet (as far as fans know, anyway), but considering that the center fielder is having his best season (4.6 fWAR) in his prime at age 27 and is one season away from free agency, it’s probably fair to say that he’ll be getting a significant raise from the $4.68 million he’s making this year.

Well … that’s unless the unfortunate end to his season throws a wrench into things, anyway.

It might just end up being absolutely nothing, but the fact that Ramsus will have his season end on the DL to undergo further tests after being struck in the face by an errant Anthony Gose warm-up toss is definitely not something to gloss over. The good news is that there’s no structural damage or signs of concussion; the bad is that he’s not quite out of the woods yet.

What is does mean for sure, however, is that this will be his second trip on the DL in 2013; and though it’s not what the team wants or intended, that’s the sort of thing that could come up in contract negotiations, whether it be over an arbitration deal or a long-term extension.

Its exact impact is yet to be determined pending those extra tests on what the team is calling a bruised left eye, and as Blue Jays fans well know by now, injuries are never really as straightforward with this team as they make it seem. That said, given Rasmus’ relative lack of significant injury in the past (he’s been on the DL once prior to 2013), I would think that any potential talks between the two sides to lock him up over the next 4-5 years won’t be wholly affected unless there are severe complications with his eye.

At the end of the day, this is one of the best center fielders in the league that is verging on being elite, and a contract similar to B.J. Upton‘s five-year, $75.25 million deal is probably a decent benchmark for what he might get out there if he were on the market today.

Then again, the 27-year-old’s only other DL stint did come in 2011, making it three times that he’s been shelved over the last three seasons ; combined with the fact that he did post 1.6 fWAR combined in 2011-2012, and perhaps the Blue Jays would have a pretty good case here to get that deal lowered to fewer years with those options that Alex Anthopoulos seems to like in his player contracts.

According to approximate fWAR values, Rasmus is a $23.2 million player this season. However, he was just a $4.9 million player last year, so it’s not like the post-hype player is an absolute sure thing. You’d think that a one-year deal to avoid arbitration for 2014 would probably by worth something like Shin-Soo Choo‘s $7.38 million deal for 2013, but even with another DL stint in 2014, Rasmus’ price will threaten to skyrocket past Upton levels with another 4.5-plus fWAR season.

Since that’s not entirely unfeasible, you might say that the team’s best opportunity to get him for a reasonable risk/reward deal might be now because Rasmus’ health is not a slam-dunk quantity. Could four years at $48 million with an option for a $17-20 million fifth year option get it done?

If there’s ever a time when it would … this offseason might be it.

Thom is an MLB writer for Follow him on Twitter @BlueJaysRant, or add him to your network on Google

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