The dawn of a new year has brought the A’s a new center fielder.
Free agent Rajai Davis has agreed to a one-year contract, the A's announced Tuesday evening. The deal is worth $6 million, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CSN California. This will be Davis’ second stint in green and gold. He spent 2008-10 with the A’s, stealing a career-high 50 bases in 2010.
Presumably, he’ll slot in as the everyday center fielder and quite possibly will also be the primary leadoff hitter for manager Bob Melvin. The A’s have needs at both spots.
At age 36, he remains one of the American League’s fastest players and stole a league-high 43 bases last season. But he also hit one of the most memorable homers in recent postseason memory in the World Series with the Indians, lining a game-tying two-run blast off the Cubs’ Aroldis Chapman, though Chicago eventually won the game and the title.
Davis slashed .249/.306/.388 last season. He drew just 33 walks and is no on-base machine, as indicated by his career .314 OBP. But he remains a big threat on the bases, and the A’s couldn’t afford to be too choosy given their need in center and the lack of quality options still available on the free agent market.
They talked to the Kansas City Royals last month about a trade for Jarrod Dyson but that never came to fruition. Davis is an affordable, short-term answer, but the A’s still lack a long-term solution for center field. Given that, they could continue pursuing a younger player for the position via trade.
With Davis added to the current roster makeup, a potential starting outfield could have him in center, flanked by Khris Davis in left and Matt Joyce and/or Mark Canha in right. Khris Davis also figures to get time at DH. Still in the outfield mix are Jake Smolinski and Brett Eibner, who split center field last season after the trades of Billy Burns and Coco Crisp.
To make room for Davis on the 40-man roster, the A's designated infielder Max Muncy for assignment.
News of the agreement between Davis and the A's was first reported by Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan.