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Tampa Bay Rays: Rasmus Deal is Finally Official

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Jul 26, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros right fielder Colby Rasmus (28) looks up from the dugout during a game against the New York Yankees at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 26, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros right fielder Colby Rasmus (28) looks up from the dugout during a game against the New York Yankees at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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Finally after weeks of waiting for the official announcement of the Colby Rasmus agreement, the Tampa Bay Rays announced that it is a done deal for one-year with incentives.

Versatility, power, high energy is what the Tampa Bay Rays are hoping to see out of Colby Rasmus who’s signing was made official on Monday after initially agreeing to terms back on January 9.

Because of numerous issues that included a review of his medical history, specifically since he underwent three surgeries last year (two after the season) and some administrative matters the finalization of his one-year, incentive-laden $5 million contract had such a delay.

The Tampa Bay Rays are banking Rasmus to return to his 2015 form when he hit .238, with 25 home runs, 68 RBIs and a .789 OPS. Speculation is that Rasmus will see action at both corner outfield spots, some DH and an occasional start to give a breather to Kevin Kiermaier in center.

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“We’ve liked Colby for awhile,” said Rays Sr. VP of Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom. “One of the things we like about him is that he’s not a one-dimensional player.

“We know he has a lot of sock in his bat. He can change a game with his power. But he’s also a very good athlete, and he impacts a game defensively. And for us to get someone we see is a very good defensive outfielder, with the ability to play center field, and layer that on to how he can impact a game at the plate, that was a very attractive combination for us.”

There were several reasons that Rasmus decided to sign with the Rays – the opportunity to be close to his home in Alabama, his familiarity with several of the Rays players, playing in the American League. Most of all reuniting with hitting coach Chad Mottola, whom he had his best year in 2013 with the Blue Jays when he hit .276/.338/.501 (115-for-417) with 22 home runs and 66 RBI.  “Having somebody that can dive off the beaten path helps me,” said Rasmus via his introductory conference call.

"“Motor helped me to see some things,” Rasmus said. “I developed some bad habits from my younger days coming up with the Cardinals. … He helped me fix those things. … And just helped me get comfortable in my own skin.”"

Free spirits is what Rasmus is all about as evident by his high energy and intensity and let us not forget his long hair that may have gotten in the way of the way he played the game during his time in St. Louis and with former manager Tony La Russa.

The Rays though will embrace such a “character,” as over the years one in particular comes to mind and that is Jonny Gomes. Gomes was free spirited, played with high energy and intensity and was never one to hold back what was on his mind. He was also a clubhouse favorite, well liked by his teammates and never had any problems fitting in. Rasmus is of the same breed as Gomes.

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“We like individuals here,” Bloom said. “We’ve always strived to have a clubhouse where everybody can be themselves. That’s one of the things that excited us — we know Colby brings a lot of energy and brings a lot of himself to everywhere he goes. And we’re excited to add that in our mix.”

The main difference between Rasmus and Gomes is that Rasmus can affect a game offensively and defensively – Gomes could do neither. Defensively, he was a finalist for the American League Gold Glove Award in 2016 coming in as the runner-up to winner Bret Gardner of the Yankees.

Over his 95 starts (75-LF, 14-CF, and 6-RF) last season, Rasmus tied for third among AL outfielders with 13 assists, trailing Adam Eaton (White Sox) and Mookie Betts (Red Sox). According to FanGraphs, he ranked fourth among major league outfielders with 20 Defensive Runs Saved, behind Betts (32).

The Rays did their due diligence on Rasmus, specifically because of the two offseason surgeries for a sports hernia and hip (bone spur and labrum tear) and of course, his bout with vertigo that was related to an ear cyst that required surgery in August.  All indications are that he will be ready for spring training – however, there is a possibility that he will not play in many exhibition games to make sure that he is geared up for the season opener on April 2.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus’ contract is a base of $5 million, with incentives based on plate appearances.

The odd-man out was Jason Coats who was released to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Rasmus. The reasoning for Coats release is that he tore his UCL the same day he was claimed by the Rays from the White Sox. Coats will require Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire 2017 season.

For those fans keeping track of the whereabouts of former Ray Richie Shaffer, Shaffer could be headed back to the market as the Indians designated him for assignment on Monday when the Tribe acquired Carlos Frias from the Dodgers.

Next: Rays Reportedly Discussing Jurickson Profar

Shaffer will leave his fifth organization of the offseason having held a 40-man roster spot starting with the Rays, before moving to Seattle, Philadelphia and Cincinnati.

 14 Days Until Pitchers and Catchers Report to Spring Training

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