Although a report out of Toronto a couple weeks ago indicated that the Chicago Cubs had met with free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus, a serious pursuit was shot down relatively quickly by some local reports. It tends to be the case that, when folks on the beat quickly shoot down a very specific rumor like that, their sources are solid.
So, I don’t want to get you too agitated with the latest on Rasmus and the Cubs, but it bears a mention. Yesterday, on MLBN Radio, each of Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden apparently suggested that, not only were the Cubs still in on Rasmus, but they were a finalist for his services, together with the Orioles. I say “apparently” because I did not hear the radio piece for myself, and have not been able to find a replay of their remarks. Instead, the radio report was first noted by Neil at the CCO. He tends to be pretty good with those things, so I don’t have any reason to doubt that he accurately described Duquette’s and Bowden’s remarks.
Having not yet heard the radio report for myself, I’m not going to comment too strongly one way or another on the Cubs’ purported remaining interest in Rasmus (though I will say that it has always made sense to me on a one-year deal), but, considering the earlier report of the Cubs meeting with Rasmus, this was definitely worth putting this on your radar. We’ll see if Rasmus’s name comes up once again connected to the Cubs in the coming weeks. That’s as far as I’ll go right now.
As for the Orioles, however, the interest is both clear and serious. Not only do the Orioles have an exceedingly obvious need for a bat in the outfield, but they’ve already engaged Rasmus to the point of having manager Buck Showalter meet with the 28-year-old this weekend to gauge whether he’d be a fit in the O’s clubhouse, per Roch Kubatko. That meeting may have gone well, because Ken Rosenthal says Showalter “evidently believes” Rasmus can be a fit. It’s not clear whether that was an opinion formed after the meeting, or if Rosenthal is speaking generally.
Eduardo Encina adds that a deal between Rasmus and the O’s is not imminent, but the outfielder has indicated a willingness to accept a one-year deal so that he can try and increase his value before hitting the market again next offseason.
In any case, the O’s are in on Rasmus, and Kubatko’s report indicates that he may be their top outfield target, although they’re also considering free agent Nori Aoki and Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier. The immediate question I’d have there is how serious the Orioles are about the latter two players, and how much they are instead letting that word get out so that they can try and get Rasmus to sign.
Indeed, that’s the very same question I have about the Cubs’ reported interest: is it legit, or is it simply Rasmus’s camp putting out a sexy team that at one point had a passing interest (fun to think that the Cubs are now a sexy team in the free agent market, eh?) in order to get the Orioles to up their offer slightly and close the deal?
To me, the fit with the Orioles is at least as strong as with the Cubs, and likely even stronger given the departures of Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz. Although I’ll be watching the Nori Aoki and Andre Ethier rumors closely, this feels like a situation where Rasmus will ultimately end up with the Orioles (and would end up with the Cubs only if they got an absolute steal on him*).
*(As I’ve said, though, Rasmus on a one-year, $8 million deal, to me, is a steal. There’s almost no real risk there, and, even if the likelihood he reaches his upside is considerably less than 50%, the upside on Rasmus on a one-year deal is enormous. Not only could he potentially provide 4 WAR across three outfield positions, he could then be made a qualifying offer, and generate a draft pick. Or, if he’s really broken out and, by some miracle, the Cubs are just so loaded with obviously-ready young offensive talent by midseason, they could trade him for a piece that helps down the stretch in another area. All of that, with no meaningful monetary risk, and no blocking of any prospects by way of a long-term deal. Isn’t that worth the price of the lottery ticket? Could Rasmus really be that disruptive in a Joe Maddon clubhouse? I just can’t see it. Roll the dice.)