Get ready for a whirlwind offseason for the Houston Astros as they try to build off the success of the 2015 season. The Astros did not make it out of the first round of the playoffs after knocking off the New York Yankees in the AL Wild Card game. The Astros were coming off three straight 100+ loss seasons last season and improved to only 92 losses in 2014. No one expected the Astros to rebound as quickly as they did, but some shrewd moves by Astros GM Jeff Luhnow in the offseason put Houston back on the map.
One of those signings was outfielder Colby Rasmus, who was coming off a down season with the Blue Jays in 2014. Rasmus lost his everyday playing status after a poor play and some emerging rookies with Toronto. After the 2014 season had ended, Rasmus was without a team for the first time in his professional career. He then started exchanging text messages with Luhnow asking if they were in need of his services? Luhnow mentioned at the Bloggers Roundtable at Fan Fest that he told Rasmus that they would be interested, but they already had a few outfielders on the roster.
Luhnow was part of the Cardinals as the drafted Rasmus in the first round, so Luhnow had a vested interest in the outfielder’s career. When the Astros were able to trade Dexter Fowler to the Chicago Cubs for Luis Valbuena and Dan Straily, a spot opened up for Rasmus. There were reports of Rasmus at a hotel by Minute Maid Park, and then he signed with the Astros, and the rest is history.
What did he do with the Astros in 2015? Let’s take a look at some of his stats from Baseball-Reference comparing his 2014 and 2015 seasons.
As you can see from the above stats, Rasmus might have finally found a way to use his talents at the age of 29. He was the perfect player for the team that was dubbed ‘Crush City’ before it was changed to ‘Hustle Town’ for the playoff run. His batting average is nothing to celebrate, but he fit in with the low average and high homer Astros lineup. But despite the growth from last year to this year, he really broke out when it meant the most for the Houston Astros.
It could be argued that the postseason MVP for the Houston Astros was Rasmus as he broke out. The Astros needed every one of Rasmus’ hits to get as far as they did in the playoffs. Take a look at his stats from Fangraphs below.
The third column was just for fun to see Rasmus’ stats over 485 plate appearances if he was as hot as he was in the playoffs all year. This projection, of course, is only for fun, I understand that these stats are impossible for even the best players out there. Had Rasmus been that hot all year as he was in those seven games, he would have hit 80 homers and 120 runs.
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Did Rasmus’ performance price him out of the Astros pocketbooks? Luhnow told us that he was happy to give Rasmus the opportunity to prove himself again, and maybe earn a three-year deal with another team after the 2015 season. Now the Astros should have a shot at re-signing Rasmus, but at what cost? The Astros will have first shot at him, but will they pony up enough money to retain him?
Will enough teams be interested enough to drive the Astros price up? He’s due to get at least a three-year deal at about $10-$12 million dollars per year, depending on the market for him. The only downside is the lack of speed and the low batting average, but he is a good defender in the outfield. Do the Astros need to go all in to retain him? No, but they need to make a valiant effort to keep him. Would the team be better seeking out a contact hitter like Jason Heyward of the Cardinals? That’s up to Luhnow, but I wouldn’t mind the Astros re-signing the slugger.
Keep up with the latest Astros talk at CTH all offseason.