The A’s have come to terms on a 1 year, $6 million deal with Rajai Davis, according to Jeff Passan.
Davis, 36, just put up his best season since 2009 with the Indians. He played in 134 games, hitting 12 HRs and stealing 43 bases (first in the AL). He only hit .249/.306/.388, but combined with great baserunning and average defense, that comes out to a solid 2 fWAR season.
He hits right-handed, but last year actually had reverse splits and hit better versus right-handed pitching. That’s probably not real, but it does mean that he won’t have to be platooned.
More notably, he was a absolute hero in the postseason for the Indians.
Basically, this seems like it would be meant to be a stopgap for the early part of the season. I argued against that earlier this week, but Rajai will likely hold his own and be a pretty average player. That’s a massive upgrade over what the A’s are running out at CF presently (which is basically nothing).
That said, I would expect him to eventually take the Brett Eibner role of platoon CF, when either Jaycob Brugman, Jaff Decker, or whoever else forces their way up. As a 36-year-old, Davis is at best a one-year answer for the A’s, and could be expected to be traded or benched if a young player shows any potential. If that never happens, Rajai is a solid starting CF regardless, and this is a perfectly inoffensive signing.
Rajai Davis played for the A’s for three years, from 2008 to 2010. He stole 120 bases in that time, including a 3.5 WAR 2009 season. He was good, and moreover he was beloved. Rajai was absolutely a fan favorite, and him coming back makes me really happy, personally.
This move also likely takes the A’s out of the running for other stopgap CFs that were once possible – especially the Jarrod Dyson market that they had been rumored to be active in. Mentally take the A’s out of the running for Austin Jackson, Colby Rasmus, or whichever other cheap center-fielder the A’s had been linked to. This should not take the A’s out of the running for a longterm CF answer or a right-fielder/DH.
It’s not an exciting move, but it will be fun. I think that’s the best you can hope for out of these 2017 A’s. And at $6 million for one year, this is essentially a quality player available for free.
Update: Max Muncy has been designated for assignment to make room for Rajai Davis on the 40-man roster, according to the SF Chronicle’s Susan Slusser.
A's designate Max Muncy for assignment to make room for Rajai Davis.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) January 4, 2017