Toronto Blue Jays' Colby Rasmus: Building Block Or Trade Bait?

By Mike Holian
Colby Rasmus
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This is a Colby Rasmus investigation. Do the Toronto Blue Jays and their fan base have a core piece to build around, or do they possess a center fielder who is coming off a career-year that has more red flags than a blind date who can’t stop talking about their ex? The city seems to be split down the middle.

On the surface, Rasmus’ 2013 stat line breeds confidence in the 27-year old slugger. Belting 22 home runs in just 417 at-bats is indeed an impressive accomplishment. Along with a remarkable .509 slugging percentage, one might boast that the Georgia native is just now reaching his prime, on the cusp of the elite status he was formerly anointed to reach.

Well, that annoying sound of a delivery truck backing up is about to be put on full blast. Surrounding those 22 long-balls is the astronomical amount of times Rasmus strikes out. Since joining the bluebirds in 2011, his strikeout rate has steadily been on the rise, capped off by his worst season yet in 2013 with 135 punchouts in a mere 458 plate appearances.

In order to overcome these shortcomings, one must show plate discipline in other areas. Still, Rasmus fell flat in that department, revealing his all-or-nothing attitude and pull-everything mentality at the plate. He produced a disturbing total of only 84 walks in the last 1083 times he’s stepped into the batter’s box.

Lady luck was in a giving mood last season, supplying the uppercut-artist with a highly unsustainable BABIP of .356. That has as much chance to repeat itself as the movie Grown Ups 2 getting shutout at the Razzie Awards. During his previous two seasons, he barely sniffed the .270 mark.

In 2010, he enjoyed a strikingly similar campaign with the St. Louis Cardinals. Both saw him reach his career-best batting average of .276. What also happened in 2010? You guessed it, a BABIP of .354. The drop-off was inevitable and foreshadowing is in the air heading into 2014.

The Jays have trouble brewing at three major positions. The starting rotation is the main concern, but it’s accompanied by risky propositions at second base and behind the plate. That makes it no surprise that the Jays were reportedly shopping the free-swinger throughout the offseason.

The once highly-touted prospect Anthony Gose has lost some of his shine recently due to his initial stumbles during his big-league auditions; however, the base-path burner still looms large as Rasmus’ likely replacement in center field. Gose owns three 40-plus stolen base seasons over his minor league career, highlighted by a beastly 70 thefts in 2011. With defensive abilities that can match the slick-gloved Rasmus, it’s only a matter of time before the takeover occurs.

The Blue Jays avoided salary arbitration in mid-January signing Rasmus to one-year, $7 million deal. With no luck on the trade market, Toronto needs his lucky streak to continue into 2014. Flipping him for more needed assets is just good business.

Mike Holian is a Writer for Follow him on Twitter @TheMikeLevel, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your Google network.

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