(2:28 PM EST): We're now getting some conflicting reports on the whole Rasmus situation. Jim Bowden of ESPN.com recently tweeted that the Cardinals have made it very clear to him that, "there is no truth to rumors that they are considering moving Colby Rasmus at the deadline."
So that may be the end of that chapter, for now. But considering the many turns that we've already seen in the relationship between Rasmus and the Cardinals, this should certainly be a situation to watch over the next few weeks
(12:57 PM EST): That's what we're hearing this morning. Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that the Cardinals might reconsider the possibility of trading their star center fielder, but they're looking for a significant return and could focus on a pitching-rich team like the Tampa Bay Rays.
At this point, the motivations behind a Rasmus trade for the Cardinals are pretty established. Not only have we seen the 24-year-old's numbers drop across the board this season, but he'd apparently rather try to sort those issues out with his father rather than with Cardinals coaches and trainers. Considering all of this, it's not surprising that the Cardinals are curious to see what kind of return they could get for Rasmus, even though it's obvious that he has the potential to be one of the game's best players given his array of tools and skills.
Though the Rays haven't mentioned any interest in Rasmus yet, it wouldn't seem to be a complete non-zero possibility; the club isn't enamored with incumbent B.J. Upton at the position any longer, and Rasmus still qualifies as a long-term solution given that he's under team control through 2014. Strauss speculated that the Cardinals could try to pry James Shields away from Tampa, but with club options through 2014 on his contract and Cy Young-level performance so far this season, it's hard to envision the Rays being interested in trading the star right-hander.
But who else could be interested in someone like Rasmus? Here are a few possibilities, and remember that we're mainly just having fun here; I'm not necessarily suggesting that any of these deals will happen, and for the most part, I'm not endorsing these deals as the kinds of deals that each team should make. I'm merely throwing out some possible trade destinations, and what those kinds of deals may eventually look like. We're having fun here. Those trade ideas come after the jump.
Rasmus to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Arodys Vizcaino, Mike Minor and Billy Bullock: The Braves could use help in center field this year, and Rasmus also gives them a major cornerstone for a potentially dominant lineup that also includes Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman. Assuming that Rasmus will command at least one elite prospect and a couple of Grade-B guys, the Cardinals may be satisfied with a pitching-loaded package like this one. Vizcaino gives them a high-upside power arm that could end up as an ace starter or reliever, Minor could help the back of St. Louis' rotation right now if needed, and Bullock is a power arm that could end up in the back of the Cardinals' bullpen long-term. Another interesting possibility would be pursuing one of Atlanta's big-time relief arms, either Craig Kimbrel or Jonny Venters. Would the Cardinals accept a package based around Kimbrel?
Rasmus to the Washington Nationals in exchange for Brad Peacock, Derek Norris and Destin Hood: We've heard about the Nationals pursuing center fielders over the years, and they still haven't found their long-term solution to that problem. Rasmus would certainly qualify, but the Nationals would also have to put a pretty huge dent in a farm system that's finally been showing signs of life over the past two years. Peacock has been one of the biggest risers in all of the minors this year, Norris is still a premium catching prospect thanks to his power, approach and improving defense, and Hood is an athletic guy that's finally turning tools into performance as a 21-year-old. It's not an overwhelming package, but it's two legitimate top prospects and another guy with some upside; you do wonder if the Nationals would be willing to give up Drew Storen or Danny Espinosa, though.
- Rasmus to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for Zach Wheeler, Gary Brown and Kendry Flores: The Giants haven't been going hard after any available center fielders with the solid Andres Torres around, but Rasmus may be the kind of guy that the Gigantes could pursue regardless. He's an impact bat capable of playing quality defense up the middle, and the Giants haven't really had a player like that in years other than pre-injury Buster Posey. Giving up Brown would be hard to swallow, but much of his value comes from plus defense in center field, and that position would be filled long-term by any deal of this sort. A long-term lineup that includes Rasmus, Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt could be fearsome, and we already know how good the Giants have been at developing pitching.
- Rasmus to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Frank Francisco, Zach Stewart, Anthony Gose and Henderson Alvarez: You could probably swap Stewart or Gose for catcher Travis d'Arnaud if you think that the Jays will give him up, but I would keep an eye on the Jays in general. GM Alex Anthopoulos has shown that he's willing to make big moves in the past, and so far he's come out of most of them looking pretty darn good. Rasmus may command more than I'm suggesting here, as this package lacks a legit elite prospect, but the Cardinals have been looking for quality relief help, and it's not like they'd be settling for legitimately underwhelming pitchers. Another possible package? Stewart, d'Arnaud and outfielder Jacob Marisnick.
- Rasmus to the Florida Marlins in exchange for Anibal Sanchez, Leo Nunez and Chad James: Now this would be a seriously ballsy move to make, on both sides. Over at Marlins Daily, Dave Gershman suggested a possible Rasmus-for-Sanchez swap, and while I like the idea, I think it's obvious that the Marlins would need to include additional value. That's where Nunez and James come in. Nunez is a trade candidate in his own right, but with the Cardinals apparently searched for late-inning help, taking on the Marlins closer kills two birds with one stone, for the lack of a better term. James, on the other hand, has had a nice turnaround to his pro career this season, although you'd never know it just from looking at his ridiculous 0-13 record on the season. (Yeah, Chad James is 0-13 with a sub-4 ERA in 18 starts this year. He's getting totally boned.)