2014 Statistics: 376 PA, .225/.287/.448, 18 HR, 4 SB, .321 wOBA, 103 wRC+, 0.6 fWAR
2015 Age: 28
Position: Left-handed hitting center fielder
Colby Rasmus is a center fielder. The New York Yankees employ not one, but two elite center fielders on long-term contracts - they already have the luxury of playing one in left field. Colby Rasmus is not going to be given a contract to start at center for the New York Yankees. Colby Rasmus will not, even if his market completely bottoms out, look to sign a value-building contract with the New York Yankees where he will never be given an opportunity to play center with any regularity. In any case his market is not likely to bottom out that deep, considering his intriguing talent and the lack of depth at center field around the league.
However, this is Major League Baseball where the Atlanta Braves are trading away its All Star, 25 year old outfielder and erstwhile face of the franchise, while Jeffrey Loria and the Miami Marlins are signing theirs to the largest contract in baseball history. The Yankees signing Rasmus this offseason would be a bigger surprise than both those transactions combined, of course, but this isn't called the silly season for nothing.
Silly is pretty much what Rasmus can make you look if you attempt to predict how he will perform from year-to-year. At 27, with just six MLB seasons under his belt, he has already been a four-win player with two teams, posting a wRC+ of 129 and 130 in those years while playing a premium position. Rasmus has shown multiple tools, most intriguingly above-average power for an up-the-middle player. Colby Rasmus should really be looking at a major payday as a free agent. Instead, he wasn't made a qualifying offer.
Unfortunately for Rasmus when he's not playing like a borderline All-Star, he plays like a player who shouldn't be playing. Aside from his two best seasons, he has generally been a below-average hitter. There is little in his peripherals to suggest that his bounce-back 2013 was anything more than an aberration in an otherwise premature decline.
It's likely no coincidence that his two best seasons coincide with his clear peaks in BABIP. Meanwhile, his steadily increasing strikeout rate, which lead to an ugly 2014 triple slash line despite a league and career average BABIP, is a concerning trend to say the least.
Courtesy of FanGraphs
Consider the expected market for Rasmus - FanGraphs crowdsourcing has pegged him at 3 years and $30 million; a scary contract at two-thirds the price - and he looks less of a buy-low candidate and more an overpay for a toolsy underachiever. Although, for his sake I hope he proves more the former than the latter, so long as he doesn't sign in the AL East anyway.
After all, he isn't going to sign with the Yankees. Probably.