The Orioles have free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus on their radar, but it seems that they might have some competition from another team in the American League East.
FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the Rays have had discussions with Rasmus. Wil Myers and Matt Joyce have already been traded this winter and Ben Zobrist could soon follow him out the door, so that leaves Desmond Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier, Steven Souza, David DeJesus, and Brandon Guyer to fill the outfield and the DH spot. That group might be sufficient even without Zobrist in the mix, but they are apparently keeping their options open depending on Rasmus’ asking price.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter met with Rasmus this weekend to get an idea of how he would fit in the team’s clubhouse. No word on how Showalter felt after the meeting, but Morosi hears that Rasmus came out of it with a “very favorable” impression of the O’s skipper and the team.
Rasmus, 28, batted .225/.287/.448 with 18 home runs and 40 RBI over 104 games last season with the Blue Jays.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.