The Athletics have signed veteran outfielder Alejandro De Aza to a minor league contract and invited him to Major League Spring Training, the team announced on Friday. De Aza can earn at a $1.75MM rate if he cracks the MLB roster, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter links), with another $1MM in available incentives.
De Aza, 33 in April, posted underwhelming numbers with the Mets after signing a one-year deal last winter, though he finished the year considerably better than he began. After batting a woeful .158/.216/.232 through the end of June, De Aza turned a corner and slashed a respectable .237/.348/.381 from July 1 through season’s end (164 plate appearances). He’s also just one season removed from a solid .262/.333/.422 batting line in 365 plate appearances split between the Orioles, Red Sox and Giants.
The A’s currently figure to have Khris Davis, Rajai Davis, Matt Joyce and Jake Smolinski see plenty of time in the outfield now that Brett Eibner has been designated for assignment. De Aza will compete for a bench spot and could serve as a left-handed complement to either Davis (both hit right-handed), though he’s spent considerably more time in the corner outfield than he has in center in recent years. De Aza did log nearly 300 innings in center for the Mets last season and receive roughly average rankings from Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating, but his overall marks since 2012 aren’t encouraging and, at age 33, it’s tough to reasonably expect a dramatic rebound.