ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Tampa Bay Rays Communications) — The Tampa Bay Rays have agreed to a one-year, $5 million contract with free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus. He has a chance to earn an additional $2 million in incentives. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Rays released outfielder Jason Coats.
Rasmus, 30, appeared in 107 games for the Houston Astros in 2016, batting .206/.286/.355 (76-for-369) with 15 home runs and 54 RBI. It marked his fifth consecutive season with at least 15 homers, joining Mike Trout (Angels), Adam Jones (Orioles) and Jose Bautista (Blue Jays) as the only American League outfielders with a current streak that long. In 2015, he hit .238/.314/.475 (103-for-432) with 25 homers and 61 RBI in 137 games, and joined catcher Matt Wieters (Orioles) and left-handed pitcher Brett Anderson (Dodgers) as the first players in major league history to accept their qualifying offers.
Over his 95 starts (75-LF, 14-CF, 6-RF) last season, Rasmus tied for third among AL outfielders with 13 assists, trailing Adam Eaton (White Sox) and Mookie Betts (Red Sox). According to FanGraphs, he ranked fourth among major league outfielders with 20 Defensive Runs Saved, behind Betts (32), Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (25) and Toronto’s Kevin Pillar (21). Defensive Runs Saved attempts to calculate how many runs a player saved or cost his team in the field compared to the average player at his position.
Early last season, Rasmus launched a new charity initiative, “Hitters for Heroes,” in which he pledged to donate $1,000 for every home run he hit to Team Rubicon, a disaster response nonprofit that utilizes the skills of military veterans to provide relief following natural disasters.
Rasmus is a career .241/.311/.434 (851-3,538) hitter across eight major league seasons with the Astros (2015-16), Toronto Blue Jays (2011-14) and St. Louis Cardinals (2009-11). He hit .276/.338/.501 (115-for-417) with 22 home runs and 66 RBI with the Blue Jays in 2013, when current Rays hitting coach Chad Mottola held that same position for Toronto.
Coats, 26, was claimed off waivers from the Chicago White Sox on January 11. Last season, he played in 28 games (14 starts; 8-RF, 3-LF, 3-DH) for the White Sox, his first career major league action. He is a career .287/.337/.458 (529-for-1,846) hitter with 54 home runs and 280 RBI across four minor league seasons.