ST. PETERSBURG -- Veteran outfielder Colby Rasmus officially signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the Rays on Monday. Rasmus' deal with the Rays includes an additional $2 million of potential incentives.
"We've liked Colby for awhile," said Rays senior vice president, baseball operations Chaim Bloom. "One of the things we like about him is that he's not a one-dimensional player.
"We know he has a lot of sock in his bat. He can change a game with his power. But he's also a very good athlete, and he impacts a game defensively. And for us to get someone we see is a very good defensive outfielder, with the ability to play center field, and layer that on to how he can impact a game at the plate, that was a very attractive combination for us."
Bloom said Rasmus will likely see action at both corner-outfield spots, DH, and in center field when Kevin Kiermaier needs a day off. Bloom emphasized that Rasmus' versatility gives Rays manager Kevin Cash more options.
Rasmus dealt with a myriad of medical matters in 2016, including an ear problem and hip and hernia issues. All told, he had three surgeries, two of which came after the season. Bloom said the club did their due dilligence in checking out Rasmus' health. Bloom noted: "We're optimistic that he's got a good chance to be active on Opening Day."
Rasmus cited several factors that enticed him to sign with the Rays, including the team's proximity to Phenix City, Ala., where he lives; his familiarity with several Rays players, including Evan Longoria and Corey Dickerson; playing in the American League East; and his relationship with Rays hitting coach Chad Mottola.
Mottola worked with Rasmus in 2013 when Mottola was the Blue Jays' hitting coach.
"Motor helped me to see some things," Rasmus said. "I developed some bad habits from my younger days coming up with the Cardinals. ... He helped me fix those things. ... And just helped me get comfortable in my own skin."
The Rays are getting a colorful character.
When asked by reporters via a conference call Monday afternoon if he felt his fielding skills were underrated -- even though he was an American League Gold Glove Award finalist -- he managed to get in a dig at his former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.
"You know how the game is, man," Rasmus said. "In the Show, they don't necessarily like long hair and the redneck folks, that's just the way it goes. My good old friend Tony La Russa has a lot of pull in the game, so you never know. I just try to play the game the way I play it. I play hard. All out."
La Russa had issues with Rasmus which eventually prompted the Cardinals to trade Rasmus to the Blue Jays in July of 2011.
Rasmus, 30, hit .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs in 107 games last season with the Astros. It was his fifth straight season with 15-plus homers, joining Mike Trout, Adam Jones and Jose Bautista as the only American League outfielders with such a streak.
Rasmus is a .241/.311/.434 career hitter in eight seasons with the Cardinals, Blue Jays and Astros.
Outfielder Jason Coats was designated for assignment to make room for Rasmus on the 40-man roster. Coats, 26, was claimed off waivers from the White Sox earlier this month.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.