Orioles sign Rasmus to Minor League deal

February 21st, 2018

SARASOTA, Fla. -- is joining the Orioles on a Minor League deal, giving Baltimore the left-handed bat it needs and adding to a frenzy of moves for the O's over the past week.

Rasmus will be a non-roster invitee in camp and will have to crack the Opening Day roster, though he immediately emerges as a strong candidate to do so.

• Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

"Colby Rasmus is a proven veteran player in the AL East who is a versatile outfielder with the power and speed to make a meaningful contribution to the 2018 Orioles," executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said in a text message.

Rasmus opened last season on the disabled list -- coming off of hip surgery -- and also hit the DL in June. He was placed on the restricted list in July for personal reasons and it was unknown at the time if he would retire. But Rasmus -- who played in 37 games for Tampa Bay -- is going to give baseball another go, and he fits the O's prescription for a left-handed bat that plays solid defense.

"That's a big part of it," manager Buck Showalter said of Rasmus' ability with the glove. "That's an area we want to get better at and get back to. ... We want to get better there. We also want to have better depth to give Adam [Jones] some time. It's something that was really a challenge for us. I don't want guys playing because we don't have somebody else."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Rasmus, the O's fourth addition this week, could back up Jones in center and fill the lefty side of what's shaping up to be a right-field platoon. Rasmus has spent seven years in the American League and is a career .242/.311/.438 hitter with a .252/.318/.463 line against righties. If he makes the roster, Rasmus is likely to mostly face right-handers, as the club currently has Chris Davis as the only left-handed hitter slated in its lineup.

A versatile defender, Rasmus played center field in just one game for the Rays in 2017 -- largely sticking to left and right field. However, he began his career as a center fielder and played at least 20 games at the position in each of his first eight seasons.

Rasmus only had 129 plate appearances last season -- 12 against left-handed pitching -- but the splits were still noticeable: .291/.333/.582 against lefties compared to .182/.167/.545 against righties. And in his limited playing time, he crushed the ball, with barrels in 9.5 percent of his plate appearances -- good for eighth-most among players with at least 70 batted balls.