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The rumor mill has started to grind early

Despite General Manager John Mozeliak's vow not to trade young centerfielder Colby Rasmus, the second year flychaser is the subject of the first big rumor of the 2010-11 off-season.





Talk out of Atlanta -- where the Braves are still playing post season games -- is hot and heavy that the Braves would be willing to pay a steep price to put Rasmus, a native Georgian, in the outfield.





Meanwhile Toronto has been mentioned as the main competitor for Colby's services.





The Blue Jays made a $126-million mistake in 2008 when they signed current centerfielder Vernon Wells to a seven-year contract. He'll make $23 million next season and $21 million annually for three seasons after that. He could opt out after next season. But it's pretty doubtful that Wells would tear up $63 million in paychecks over the next three years just because he's tired of getting kicked around by the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays.





if not for the huge contract, I'd be very interested in a swap of Rasmus to Toronto for Wells, shortstop Yunel Escobar (formerly of the Braves) and one of their young starters, maybe Brett Cecil.





If Toronto would have to pay AT LEAST three-quarters of Wells' remaining paycheck, which they would almost certainly not do, it might be an interesting swap. The extra starter could save the Redbirds the need to pay Jake Westbrook $14-$15 million over two years.





SS Escobar

RF Jay/Craig

1B Pujols

LF Holliday

CF Wells

3B Freese

 C Molina

2B Ryan/Schumaker



SP Carpenter

SP Wainwright

SP Garcia

SP Cecil

SP Lohse





If that swap was made, the Cardinals would be able to greatly improve the offense with a better leadoff man and an experienced RBI bat -- he's driven in 97 or more four times in his career and has averaged 26 homers a year over the course of his career. And they'd greatly improve the defense with the three time Gold Glover in center and Skip Schumaker pushed back into the outfield.





I still think St. Louis would need to improve the bench -- especially with someone who could play third base on a regular basis -- and work on the left side of the bullpen. But by making this cash neutral move would allow the Cardinals a lot more flexibility to make other improvements -- possibly even adding a more accomplished rightfielder.

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