Having read the title, I can no longer do the following exercise correctly, but I’ll do it anyway:
Player A: .295 AVG/.324 OBP/.508 SLG (was in the AL All-Star starting lineup)
Player B: .272 AVG/.336 OBP/.490 SLG
Player A is Adam Jones, universally hailed as one of the best outfielders in the game. Player B is Colby Rasmus, universally panned as an under-performer with a poor mental game. Rasmus was the hero for his Blue Jays this afternoon, driving a ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the ninth, driving in Emilio Bonifacio for the walk-off win.
By weighted on-base average, a more specific measure of offense, Rasmus is in a dead heat with Jones at .358, above the .321 AL average for center fielders. Behind Mike Trout, the two are the best in the league at their position, offensively speaking.
Factoring in defense, base running, and playing time, Rasmus grades as the league’s second-best overall center fielder behind Trout going by Wins Above Replacement, per FanGraphs. Rasmus turns 27 on August 11 and will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility after the season. He can become a free agent after the 2014 season. At the time the Jays agreed to give him $4.675 million to avoid arbitration in January, it was hard to imagine them wanting to offer Rasmus a contract extension, but it is a very real possibility now after the great season he has had thus far.
Catcher Welington Castillo was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks on Friday, making him one of 35 additional players to enter the free agent pool. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Castillo was drawing interest from the Rays, among a bevy of major league clubs, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien added that the Braves have “some interest” as well.
The Rays’ trifecta of catchers — Curt Casali, Luke Maile, and Bobby Wilson — did little to inspire confidence behind the plate in 2016, and with top free agent Wilson Ramos sidelined after suffering a torn ACL in September, it makes sense that they’d explore more affordable options. Castillo profiled well at the plate during his first full season with the Diamondbacks, slashing .264/.322/.423 with 14 home runs in 457 PA. Behind the dish, he placed third among all qualified major league catchers with seven DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), though his league-leading 10 passed balls weren’t anything to write home about.
Unlike the Rays, the Braves have a serviceable catching platoon in Tyler Flowers and Anthony Recker. Beyond that, their catching depth is fairly shallow despite the recent addition of former Mariners’ outfield prospect Alex Jackson. Jackson, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley, has not played behind the plate since high school, though GM John Coppolella is reportedly interested in trying him there again. A.J. Pierzynski is also rumored to be seeking a deal elsewhere in free agency, which could open the door for a multi-year deal with Castillo.
After rumors of the deal surfaced on Thursday, the Mariners officially signed veteran reliever Marc Rzepczynski to a two-year, $11 million deal on Friday night. Per a report by ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the lefty is due $5.5 million in 2017 and 2018.
The signing marks the left-hander’s fourth trade since July 2015. He bounced from the Indians to the Padres at the 2015 trade deadline, then to the Athletics in the offseason, then to the Nationals in late August of 2016. Last season, he pitched to a career-best 2.64 ERA during 47 2/3 innings with the Athletics and Nationals, but hit an all-time low with 5.5 BB/9 that fed into a 1.59 K/BB rate. While the 31-year-old’s split against right-handed batters are underwhelming (a career .277/.377/.431 line with 123 walks and 24 home runs), he’s held lefties to a respectable .222/.291/.298 line with just 52 walks and eight homers.
Adding Rzepczynski to the bullpen should check off another to-do item for Mariners’ GM Jerry Dipoto, though FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman notes that the club is still likely to pursue an additional reliever and a No. 4 starter before the offseason comes to a close.