The A’s began work on replenishing their outfield Wednesday by agreeing to terms with free agent Matt Joyce to a two-year contract.
The deal is worth a reported $11 million, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.
Joyce, a 32-year-old left-handed hitter who plays both corner outfield spots, spent last season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was used mostly off the bench, appearing in more than half of his games as a pinch hitter and proving very effective in that role. Though he hit just .220 in the pinch, he led the majors in RBI (15) and tied for the lead in homers (4).
Joyce also drew a major league-record 21 pinch walks in 81 plate appearances in that situation. He’ll be an option to perhaps platoon with Mark Canha in right field or handle left when Khris Davis is at DH.
The A’s still are searching for an everyday center fielder. And though Joyce isn’t a big-name signing to help out in the corners, the skill set he brings should prove useful. He had a .403 on-base percentage last season (.341 for his career), and his willingness to take a walk is needed for an A’s team that ranked last in the American League last season with a .304 on-base percentage, fourth lowest in Oakland history.
His experience and success pinch hitting will also come into play as the A’s tend to substitute early and often during games looking for the left-right advantage at the plate.
Joyce’s best season of his nine-year big league career came in 2011 with Tampa Bay, when he was an All-Star and set career highs with a .277 batting average, 19 home runs and 75 RBI.
To make room on the 40-man roster, the A’s designated corner infielder Rangel Ravelo for assignment.