Posted on July 13, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Colby Rasmus will not be returning to the team this season. Rasmus, who has been on the DL since June 23 with a hip injury, has informed the Rays that he has decided to “step away from baseball.” This does not appear to be a retirement from Rasmus. However, the Rays don’t expect him to return this season. On Thursday, Tampa Bay placed Rasmus on the restricted list.
“The Rays fully support Colby’s decision to step away from baseball. We are thankful for his contributions to our team, and we wish him and his family the best as they move forward,” the Rays said in a statement. “Respecting the privacy of Colby and his family, the Rays will have no further comment.”
The 30-year old Rasmus signed a one-year, $5 million contract with Tampa Bay over the winter. He was coming off a disappointing season with the Astros in 2016, hitting just .206. However, he bounced back nicely this year amidst problems with his hip. Rasmus missed all of April after undergoing hip surgery. He went back to the DL on June 23 because of tendinitis in his left hip.
In between DL stints, Rasmus played in 37 games for the Rays, hitting .281 with nine home runs, posting a healthy OPS of .896. With Kevin Kiermaier also on the DL because of a hip injury, the Rays had come to rely on Rasmus to play an important role in their outfield, at least until he returned to the DL in June.
The exact reason why Rasmus is walking away from baseball at this point is unknown. At first glance, he may be trying to rest his hip and take care of his body physically by taking the rest of the year off. However, Rasmus has previously suggested that he may retire early in order to spend more time with his family.
Rasmus will not be paid while he’s on the restricted list. He’s set to be a free agent following the season if he chooses to return to baseball after this hiatus.
Meanwhile, the Rays now have a permanent opening in their outfield to fill. Mallex Smith has performed well since taking over for Kiermaier in center field. He will likely shift back to left field when Kiermairer returns. But Kiermaier appears to be at least another month away from returning.
In the meantime, the Rays may need to continue to survive with Shane Peterson and Peter Bourjos sharing duties in left field. Peterson, a 29-year old journeyman, has acquitted himself well since being called up when Rasmus went to the DL in June. But he has no track record of sustained success in the majors. Bourjos is also having a solid season. But may be better suited for a complementary role.
Knowing that Rasmus isn’t coming back and Kiermaier is likely to miss another month, the Rays may need to explore the trade market for an outfielder. Tampa Bay is currently tied with the Yankees for the two wild-card spots and 3.5 games behind the first-place Red Sox. But with 10 players, including Rasmus, currently on the DL or restricted list, the Rays may need to bring in reinforcements if they hope to reach the posteason.
The Rays no doubt respect the decision Rasmus has made to step away from baseball for the time being. But losing him for the remainder of the season is a blow to their playoff hopes.