27 July 2011

Colby Rasmus and the Orioles

In a series of trades between three teams, Colby Rasmus wound up with the Blue Jays.  Unlike last year, the Jays used pieces that the Orioles have as well.  This differs from last year when the Jays acquired the allegedly troublesome Yunel Escobar for Alex Gonzalez.  The Orioles did not have a cheap "proven" veteran at shortstop to offer, so I had little to write about that.  However, the Jays used the following players to get Colby Rasmus and some most likely forgettable bullpen arms:

RHSP Edwin Jackson (acquired from ChiSox)
RHRP Octavio Dotel (can be bought out at end of season)
LHRP Mark Rzepczynski
OF Corey Patterson
3 players to be named or cash

It boils down to a good, but not great starting pitcher; a right handed relief pitcher having a great season; a good young relief pitcher, a lower rung outfielder who can play every position, and a bunch of organizational guys or money.  I'd say that here are the corresponding players from the Orioles organization:

RHSP Jeremy Guthrie (extra year of control)
RHRP Koji Uehara (extra year of control)
RHRP Jim Johnson
OF Felix Pie
3 relatively unimportant players or cash

I would put Guthrie ahead of Edwin Jackson here by a nudge.  Guthrie playing for a solid team should see his wins bump up, which means he should be a relative good deal this fall during arbitration and potentially a solid type B level free agent the following season.  Koji Uehara costs about the same as Octavio Dotel and is likely to be a type A free agent in a little over a year (though the compensation might not be as good as it will be at the end of this season, so that might be a push).  Jim Johnson is not a lefty, but is probably a better pitcher than Rzep.  The rest is about the same.  I think these are pretty similar packages.

Of course, we have to ask: would the Orioles benefit from having Colby Rasmus?

The Orioles' outfield next year would look like this:
Colby Rasmus LF 260/340/450 20hr
Adam Jones CF 280/330/470 20hr
Nick Markakis RF 300/350/420 15hr

That may not look like much, but those numbers are a vast improvement over this year.  Orioles' left fielders have a collective projected WAR of -2.0 while the above projected line would be about 3.5 WAR.  That would be a swing of about 5 wins for the outfield alone.  Guthrie alone is likely a loss of 3-4 WAR with Koji and Johnson account for about 2-3 WAR.  The Cardinals should make out in the short term.  The Orioles would like break even in 2013 and then take the lead in 2014, Rasmus' last controlled year.  It looks like a fair and useful deal to both sides.  The Cardinals get good performance cheaply over a couple years while the Orioles try to develop an all star potential.

With free agency, the loss of Guthrie and Koji/Johnson may not be as significant.  Similar production might be gained by signing either Edwin Jackson or Mark Buehrle as a starter and someone like Jon Rauch, Jason Frasor, or Octavio Dotel.  That will require an additional expenditure of around 5-8 MM more next year with the difference between the two sets of players. 

Oh well.  Maybe MacPhail has something up his sleeve.


Joe Guido said...

I question whether Rasmus would be more productive than Reimold. I don't think the Orioles need to give up a bunch of players for something they already have on the roster.

Anonymous said...

Rasmus is probably about 2 wins better on defense in left than Nolan and is 3 or 4 years younger. Rasmus is certainly a far far better commodity.

Tom Fowler said...

While I think the analysis is good, it doesn't account for the fact that Rasmus would probably struggle here, then go on to become an All-Star after we traded him for a high-A player and a sack of baseballs in 2013.

Yeah, the Orioles' player development and coaching situations make me cynical.

Presuming Rasmus would not fall victim to the apparent ills of our organization, I think he has .275/.350/.460 upside. He doesn't appear to be an elite defender, but he could become a good one.

Anonymous said...

LaRussa says Rasmus did not listen to coaches. Given our coaches track record of not improving players, that may have been a good thing.

TheJbLounge said...

I think it shows how having a tired GM like MacPhail is out of his league now. Alex Anthopolous wanted Ramsus and then engineered a trade with the White Sox to enable it. MacPhail has it the other way. Dumping players (Tejada take 2, Sherrill, Huff, Ohman) for whatever he can get. Instead of packaging like a Guthrie, Johnson, Koji, Pie deal, we will trade only Koji or only Guthrie for some low ceiling AA/AAA player.

Also, "grow the arms buy the bats" doesn't work today since you have to grow both. Teams lock up young talent early like we did with Markakis. By the time you can buy him, he's pushing 30 and is getting his 4-8 year $100+ million deal. The O's have shown that they won't spend that.

Jon Shepherd said...

When MacPhail does trade...he tends to get decent value back. He basically turned Huff into JJ Hardy and Huff was hitting horribly. Tejada part II consisted of an awful hitting Tejada. Sherrill brought back a top 50 prospect at the time.