Rajai Davis Rumors

Tigers, Rajai Davis Agree To Two-Year Deal

12:43pm: Davis will earn an even $10MM over the life of the deal, tweets Nicholson-Smith.

9:29am: Davis' contract is a straight two-year deal that doesn't contain any type of option, tweets Nicholson-Smith.

9:02am: Davis' two-year deal is in the $9-10MM range, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). That number continues a surprising increase in the going rate for a fourth outfielder, as Nate McLouth recently signed for $10.75MM over two years with the Nationals.

8:40am: The Tigers have agreed to a two-year deal with outfielder Rajai Davis, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. Davis is represented by Relativity Sports (formerly known as SFX).

Davis, 33, hasn't played in an everyday role for the Blue Jays over the last three seasons, but has seen enough action to rack up nearly 1,200 plate appearances, recording a .252/.299/.369 slash line. The speedster has also added 125 stolen bases over that period. That batting line may not be particularly impressive, but his .297/.363/.455 line against left-handed pitchers dating back to 2011 certainly is. Davis could make sense in a platoon capacity with Andy Dirks and could fall into a fourth outfielder role should the Tigers land a big fish like Shin-Soo Choo.

Davis will join an outfield group that currently consists of Dirks, Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter. Though he'struggled mightily in his most recent large chunks of center field work (2010-11), Davis has more than 3200 career innings in center, making him a capable short-term option there should Jackson hit the disabled list. Per Fangraphs, only Jacoby Ellsbury added more value on the basepaths than Davis did in 2013.

Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports first reported that the two sides were close to a deal this morning (on Twitter). Nicholson-Smith reported last night that the Tigers were considered the front-runners.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Rajai Davis Close To Two-Year Deal With Tigers

Rajai Davis is close to signing a two-year deal with the Tigers, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  A report from Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith yesterday pegged the Tigers as the frontrunners for Davis, and Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN added that the Twins are also in the mix.  Morosi tweets that the Tigers are less likely to sign Shin-Soo Choo if they ink Davis.

Davis, 33, hasn't played in an everyday role for the Blue Jays over the last three seasons, but has seen enough action to rack up nearly 1,200 plate appearances, recording a .252/.299/.369 slash line. The speedster has also added 125 stolen bases over that period.

Since the Jays' season ended, reports on Davis have suggested that he'll likely leave Toronto and that he'll be seeking a starting role. An everyday job seems unlikely given Davis' struggles against right-handed pitching, but he'd make a solid fourth outfielder, a role which should give him the opportunity to earn plenty of at-bats, if his last few years in Toronto have been any indication.

Rajai Davis Nearing Deal; Tigers, Twins In Mix

11:16pm: The Tigers are viewed as the frontrunners for Davis, a source tells Nicholson-Smith (Twitter link).

10:32pm: Davis is indeed getting close to a contract agreement, Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith hears from a source (Twitter link). It's not clear yet whether it will be with the Twins or another team.

9:46pm: Minnesota is in the mix for Davis, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities. According to Wolfson, the Twins are willing to commit multiple years to Davis, which should make the team a strong suitor for his services.

9:09pm: If Davis does sign within the next couple days, as Duquette predicted, it doesn't sound like it will be with the O's. Kubatko hears that Baltimore isn't in on Davis (Twitter link).

7:23pm: We haven't heard many rumors on Rajai Davis so far this offseason, but Orioles GM Dan Duquette said today that he expects the outfielder to sign a contract within the next day or two, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (Twitter link).

It's not clear yet if Duquette came away with that impression after speaking to Davis' agent, or whether the O's themselves are seriously in the mix for Davis. It's worth noting though that Duquette also indicated today that he believed his team would add at least one player within the next couple days.

Davis, 33, hasn't played in an everyday role for the Blue Jays over the last three seasons, but has seen enough action to rack up nearly 1,200 plate appearances, recording a .252/.299/.369 slash line. The speedster has also added 125 stolen bases over that period.

Since the Jays' season ended, reports on Davis have suggested that he'll likely leave Toronto and that he'll be seeking a starting role. An everyday job seems unlikely given Davis' struggles against right-handed pitching, but he'd make a solid fourth outfielder, a role which should give him the opportunity to earn plenty of at-bats, if his last few years in Toronto have been any indication.

Blue Jays Notes: Catching, Arencibia, Kawasaki, Davis

Here's the latest on the Blue Jays, who look set for another busy offseason…

  • The Jays have made inquiries about such catchers as Carlos Ruiz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and A.J. Pierzynski, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi reports.  Davidi also suspects Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos has checked in on Brian McCann, to boot. 
  • The Jays were known to be looking to improve behind the plate this winter and current catcher J.P. Arencibia has drawn trade interest from other teams.  Davidi says there is some feeling that Arencibia has too much "accumulated baggage" in Toronto and might not reach his potential in a Blue Jay uniform.  Arencibia is projected to earn $2.8MM as a first-time arbitration eligible player this winter and the Jays would certainly prefer getting something back for him in a trade than simply non-tendering him.
  • Ervin Santana, Tim Hudson and Hiroki Kuroda have all received calls from the Blue Jays, Davidi reports, noting that Hudson and Kuroda probably don't have any mutual interest.  Hudson is being courted by over 10 teams while Kuroda seems to be set on either re-signing with the Yankees, returning to pitch in Japan or retiring.
  • Also from Davidi, Munenori Kawasaki could sign a new minor league deal with the Jays that would pay him more than the $600K base salary he earned last season.
  • In another piece from Davidi, Melky Cabrera is looking much healthier and fit after a tumor was surgically removed from his spine, Anthopoulos said.  Cabrera looks to be the Jays' everyday choice in left field, though obviously that could change if he suffers a setback in his rehabilitation.
  • Rajai Davis is likely to leave the Jays for a team that can offer him more playing time, Davidi reports.  The club's hope is that Anthony Gose or Moises Sierra can be a low-cost replacement for Davis as a backup outfielder.
  • Sierra is out of options and "is a prime candidate to be shopped," MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm writes.  Brad Lincoln could also be part of a trade package, as Chisholm breaks down possible scenarios for the Jays' nine out-of-options players. 

AL East Notes: Anderson, Davis, A-Rod, Guerrieri

The Red Sox can return to the World Series for the third time in the last 10 seasons if they beat the Tigers tomorrow or in a potential Game Seven on Sunday.  The other four AL East teams will be working hard this offseason to match (or better) Boston's 2013 success, so here's the latest from around the division…

  • The Athletics could exercise Brett Anderson's $8MM option for 2014 and then trade him to one of a few teams who are interested, with the Blue Jays being specifically cited, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes.  Toronto scouted Anderson late last season and have been interested in the southpaw for the last two years.  Anderson has appeared in just 54 games over the last four seasons due to several injuries, most notably Tommy John surgery, so it would be a risky move for the injury-plagued Jays to acquire another pitcher with a poor health history.
  • Rajai Davis is looking forward to his first free agent experience, the outfielder tells MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm.  Davis is looking for an everyday job and has historically struggled against right-handed pitching, which Chisholm notes makes it unlikely that the Blue Jays will re-sign him.
  • Both Major League Baseball and Alex Rodriguez's camp have admitted to paying to obtain documents from the Biogenesis clinic, sources familiar to the Rodriguez appeal hearing tell Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.
  • Rays right-hander Taylor Guerrieri has been suspended for 50 games for a PED violation, the league announced Friday.  Guerrieri twice tested positive for a "drug of abuse" that is believed to be marijuana, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.  Guerrieri was the 24th overall pick of the 2011 draft and was considered one of the top prospects in baseball by MLB.com (44th-best), ESPN's Keith Law (#47) and Baseball America (#64) in preseason rankings.  The 20-year-old won't miss any game action due to the suspension since he was already slated to miss most of the 2014 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
  • In AL East news from earlier today, the Yankees are reportedly planning to spend $300MM on new contracts this offseason while the Red Sox have agreed to sign Cuban right-hander Dalier Hinojosa to a minor league deal.

AL East Notes: Jeter, Davis, Blue Jays, Orioles

Mariano Rivera's legendary career began on a humble note, as MLB.com's Adam Berry relates as part of the site's "42 Days Of Mo" series.  Rivera's first contract with the Yankees netted him just a $3K bonus, and it didn't take long for the club to realize they may have had something special when Rivera allowed just one run over 52 rookie ball innings in 1990.

Here are some items from around the AL East…

  • Even though Derek Jeter has spent almost the entire 2013 season on the DL, ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider subscription required) notes that the shortstop could have enough leverage to negotiate another multiyear deal from the Yankees this winter.  Jeter has an $8MM player option that would net him $3MM from New York if he opts out.
  • It seems unlikely that Rajai Davis will re-sign with the Blue Jays this winter, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm writes as part of a reader mailbag piece.  While Davis may not find a full-time job on the free agent market this winter, he should be able to find more playing time than he would in Toronto given the Jays' crowded outfield situation.
  • Also from Chisholm, he notes Brett Cecil isn't likely to be converted back into a starter given his All-Star performance out of the bullpen this season.  Munenori Kawasaki's presence on the Jays' Major League roster in 2014 is still up in the air and Brandon Morrow's health may be the key to Toronto's starting rotation next year.
  • The Orioles have a number of options for their September call-ups, and MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko gives his take on who the O's might add once the rosters expand on September 1.
  • From earlier today in the AL East, the Red Sox called up Xander Bogaerts and released Jose Contreras and made a few other minor roster moves….we learned the Sox aren't pursuing Cuban shortstop Alexander Guerrero….Phil Hughes wants to remain a starting pitcher….the Yankees released Luis Cruz.

Blue Jays Notes: Oliver, Gose, Bench, Arencibia

The Blue Jays have been very busy this offseason swinging a 12-player trade with the Marlins, acquiring R.A. Dickey from the Mets, and signing Melky Cabrera and Maicer IzturisMLB.com's Gregor Chisholm touched on what these moves mean for the franchise and the other roster decisions that still need to be addressed when he recently opened his inbox.

  • This offseason will determine the legacy of GM Alex Anthopoulos, not based on the timeline of winning but on the amount of money spent. Chisholm writes it's a similar investment to the one former GM J.P. Ricciardi made in 2006 by signing A.J. Burnett, B.J. Ryan and trading for the likes of Troy Glaus and Lyle Overbay. When those big moves didn't pan out, it reflected negatively on Ricciardi and ultimately led to his firing.
  • Darren Oliver is still leaning toward retirement and the Blue Jays aren't expecting to hear a final decision until January.
  • Anthony Gose is set to begin the season at Triple-A Buffalo with Rajai Davis assuming the role of fourth outfielder and late-game pinch-runner.
  • The Blue Jays have one bench opening left to fill. With the versatility of Davis, Izturis, and Emilio Bonifacio, look for that final spot to go to somone invited to Spring Training on a minor league contract.
  • In a separate article, Chisholm writes J.P. Arencibia has solidified his spot in the Toronto lineup for the forseeable future. Anthopoulos made the rare move of reaching out to Arencibia telling him not to concern himself with the trade rumors. "Not only does that make me feel good, but it makes you want to go out and work harder, go the extra mile and go the extra distance for this organization," Arencibia told Chisholm. "If they tell me I need to run through a wall, I'm going to try and run through that wall."

AL East Links: Ibanez, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox

Four years ago today, the Yankees traded a package headlined by Wilson Betemit to the White Sox for Nick Swisher. After helping New York to the 2009 World Series and three other playoff appearances, Swisher is now in line for a big multiyear contract as a free agent this winter. Here's the latest from the AL East…

Blue Jays Exercise Option For Oliver, Re-Sign Davis

The Blue Jays have exercised their 2013 option for left-hander Darren Oliver, the team announced. The club also declined their option for Rajai Davis, but re-signed him to a one-year deal worth $2.5MM.

Oliver, 42, pitched to a 2.06 ERA in 56 2/3 innings this season. He'll earn $3MM next year. The 32-year-old Davis hit .257/.309/.378 with 46 stolen bases this year. His club option was worth $3MM.

Aggressive Baserunning Paying Off For Jays In 2011

John Farrell inherited a vastly different offense than the one that clubbed a league-leading 257 home runs for Cito Gaston in 2010. Vernon Wells, John Buck and Lyle Overbay are gone and newcomers Rajai Davis (pictured), Corey Patterson and Juan Rivera now have prominent roles on the team. Before the season, the new Blue Jays manager explained his vision of a more complete offense, one that would feature players zipping from base to base instead of waiting for their chance to break into a home run trot. 

Rajai Davis

“I would like us to become a much more aggressive team on the basepaths,” Farrell said in January. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to try to make Jose Molina a base stealer. But it does mean that there are opportunities where we can turn guys loose.”

And turn them loose he did. Even Molina has a pair of steals and Toronto has already stolen more bases than it did during the entire 2010 season. The increase is largely because of Davis, the slumping speedster who has attempted to steal 26 of the 50 times he has been on with an open base ahead of him. Unfortunately for Farrell, Davis has only succeeded 18 times (69%) and his running mate, Patterson, is only 11 for 17 (65%).

As a unit, Blue Jays baserunners are succeeding at a lower rate than they did under Gaston, though they’ve already eclipsed last year’s stolen base total. The team’s success rate has dropped from 74% to 71% in the early going, but the Jays have been successful in another department: taking the extra base. As the table below shows, Blue Jays baserunners have been more aggressive, taking extra bases on plays they showed more caution on under Gaston.

For example, the Blue Jays scored from first on a double 33 times last year. Led by Jose Bautista, who has scored four of the five times he has been on first for a teammate’s two-base hit, the Jays have already scored from first on a double 22 times under Farrell. 

Jays Speed

But Bautista's success running the bases is mitigated by the fact that he has already been picked off three times. In fact, Farrell's aggressive approach has led to 13 pickoffs so far, just one shy of the team's 2010 total.

Despite the pickoffs, Bautista has been Toronto’s most effective baserunner this year, according to UBR, a stat that measures a player’s impact on the bases (not including attempted steals). Still, Farrell has known all along that home runs are an essential weapon for his right fielder and for his entire offense. 

“We’re going to play to that strength,” Farrell said. “But in preparing against this team [as an opponent], it was one that seemed to be one-dimensional and a little predictable.”

The numbers suggest the Blue Jays were among the worst teams baserunning teams in baseball last year. But after placing 27th in MLB with a -11.1 UBR in 2010, they’re fifth in baseball with +4.4 UBR this season. In other words, the Jays are on a pace to add a win on the basepaths this year, after losing a win on the bases last year.

Farrell still finds himself looking for a ‘spark’ and the offense will remain something of a work in progress until Aaron Hill and Travis Snider find their strokes and Brett Lawrie’s wrist is healthy.  There’s no denying that the Blue Jays’ offense is sputtering at the moment – they’ve scored only three runs in their past four games – but the group has generally been productive. Only six MLB teams have scored more runs than Toronto this year and the offense is above average thanks in part to Farrell’s aggressive baserunning.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.