The Orioles were intrigued enough by free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus that they sent manager Buck Showalter to have dinner with him. That seems to have been the extent of their interest, however, and now Rasmus is off the board, the latest of supposed O's free agent targets to sign elsewhere. Rasmus is headed to the Houston Astros on a one-year contract. His presence in Houston today was first sniffed out by our Astros blog counterparts at Crawfish Boxes.
Rasmus, 28, was coming off a year in which he batted .225/.287/.448 over 104 games. That's a nice bit of power, especially with 18 home runs. The sub-.300 on-base percentage and .225 batting average is less than inspiring, which is why he found himself twisting in the winds of free agency until this late date.
For Rasmus, the hope is surely that he will perform well enough on this one-year deal to earn himself something better next offseason. That kind of contract worked out pretty well for the O's and Nelson Cruz in the 2014 season. Rasmus is not exactly on the level of Cruz.
There are reasons Rasmus was an interesting name, mostly revolving around the fact that two of his six MLB seasons have been good. He OPSed .859 as a 23-year-old in St. Louis and had an .840 OPS for the Blue Jays in 2013. He hit more than 20 home runs three times.
There are also plenty of reasons for the O's to have looked at Rasmus and decided DO NOT WANT, like the fact that he struck out 124 times in those 104 games last season. There are also those kinds of vague rumblings about makeup issues that you sometimes hear about a player. Presumably, that was something Showalter wanted to suss out for himself. On top of that, Rasmus apparently has some kind of helicopter dad.
It all adds up to the likelihood that the Orioles looked at the total package Rasmus offers and decided to say no thanks, even at the reportedly small price of "more than $4 million." That's actually a bit of a puzzler, given that the O's were supposedly interested in Rasmus for about $7 million but not more than that. It's hard to imagine Rasmus taking $3 million less to sign with Houston given the choice, so perhaps the O's were never in at that level or they pulled an offer after making it.
It could also turn out that the phrase "more than $4 million" literally means "any number greater than $4 million," rather than the common meaning you or I would understand, "somewhere between $4-5 million." Because if it was more than $5 million instead, wouldn't you say that?
UPDATE 4:45pm: MLB Network's Matt Yallof tweets that the Rasmus contract is worth $8 million for one year, so basically Jon Morosi looks like an idiot for the extremely vague "more than $4 million." Do better next time around, Jon!
If the Orioles were willing to offer $7 million to Rasmus, but wouldn't go to $8 million, that doesn't sound like a rationale for not signing him was to avoid spending money. They would have spent money if it was the right amount. Perhaps the season to come will prove that this was not a good decision, but it's certainly defensible to avoid Rasmus.
Combining this Rasmus signing with the fact that Nori Aoki signed with the Giants for less than $5 million and I have to figure the Orioles were just not that into these guys. Whether that's because they are believers in their current corner outfield candidates or simply that they don't think either Rasmus or Aoki would make a good fit, I don't know, but I suspect they could have had either one if they wanted.
Though there's always the chance of a trade or that ridiculous Ichiro Suzuki rumor getting resurrected, this probably closes the book on the Orioles offseason before it ever even opened. Is it Opening Day yet?