Blue Jays avoid arbitration with Colby Rasmus at $2.7M

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Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com is reporting that the Blue Jays have inked Colby Rasmus to a $2.7 million contract for 2012, thus avoiding salary arbitration with the 25-year-old center fielder.

Rasmus made a poor first impression with Toronto last year, batting just .173/.201/.316 in 140 plate appearances after being acquired from the Cardinals at the July trade deadline. But he’s still regarded as an immensely talented young player and would seem capable of shifting his career back on track.

The former first-round pick made a big splash in 2010, when, as a 23-year-old, he registered a sparkling .859 OPS with 23 home runs and 12 stolen bases in 144 games for St. Louis. His development took a sudden detour in 2011 and his clashes with the Cardinals’ coaching staff eventually resulted in an eight-player swap.

Rasmus will be eligible for arbitration twice more before getting a crack at the free agent market.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.