The Astros and free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus have agreed on a one-year, $8 million deal for the 2015 season.
The signing comes just one day after Houston traded center fielder Dexter Fowler to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for infielder Luis Valbuena and pitcher Dan Straily.
Rasmus, 28, a career center fielder, would seemingly be Fowler’s replacement up the middle; allowing the club to keep burgeoning superstar George Springer in right field and sending former top prospect Jake Marisnick to the bench or back to the minors.
The move furthers the idea that the Astros are looking to be competitive, if not heavily-flawed, in 2015.
Rasmus is the latest addition to a lineup that will likely lead the league in home runs and could potentially set records for team strikeouts.
Last season, Rasmus hit 18 home runs while striking out 124 times in just 346 at-bats.
Here’s a quick look at the list of free-swinging mashers already on Houston’s roster and their HR/K numbers from 2014:
Needless to say, this team will be equal parts exciting and frustrating to watch in 2015.
In addition to big power and big strikeouts, Rasmus also brings an almost enigmatic quality to Houston.
Throughout his career he has posted two fantastic seasons in 2010 when he posted an .859 OPS, a 132 OPS+, and 3.6 WAR as a 22-year-old and in 2013 he put up an .840 OPS, 127 OPS+, and 4.6 WAR as a 26-year-old.
Surrounding those two seasons, however, is a lot of mediocrity and unfulfilled promise from a former first round draft pick. Consequently, it seems prudent to mention that he was drafted in St. Louis when current Astros general manager Jeff Lunhow was the Cardinals scouting director.
Lunhow and the Astros are clearly banking on a big bounce-back season for Rasmus.
It may be a tall order as we’re talking about a six-year veteran who has a career .246/.313/.438 batting line in more than 3,000 plate appearances and nearly 800 games at the big league level.
Rasmus probably isn’t as bad as he was last year, but he’s also not as good as he was in 2010 or 2013. The real Rasmus lies somewhere in between and is rapidly becoming a borderline everyday player.
Most defensive metrics agree that he looks stretched in center field and may be destined for a corner outfield slot moving forward.
It’s looking more and more likely that, at just 28-years-old, Rasmus may be at a crossroads in his career.
He’ll join the Astros and their island of misfit toys – seemingly the one place in baseball where his strikeouts won’t be a problem – and by season’s end, we’ll witness one of two outcomes.
He will have re-established his value in time to cash-in on the open market as a slugging center fielder or he’ll once again find himself a free agent deep into the depths of January, potentially searching for jobs as a fourth outfielder.