Feb. 19: Davis would earn $1.75MM upon making the big league roster and has an additional $3.25MM available to him via incentives, reports USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter links). Davis can ask for his release on March 22 if he hasn’t been added to the Major League roster by that time.
Feb. 17, 1:32pm: The signing is official, Bastian tweets.
12:15pm: The Indians are set to sign outfielder Rajai Davis to a minor league contract with a non-roster invitation to spring training, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports. The deal is pending a physical (Twitter links). Davis is repped by the Legacy Agency.
There’s already familiarity between Cleveland and the 37-year-old Davis, who was a member of the Indians during their American League-winning season in 2016. Davis authored one of the most memorable moments in World Series history that year when he hit a two-run, game-tying homer off then-Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman in the eighth inning of Game 7. Unfortunately for Davis and the Tribe, the Cubs went on to win the game.
While Davis is known for that HR, the righty-swinger hasn’t been a major offensive threat during his career. The lifetime .264/.313/.384 hitter is coming off a year in which he batted a meager .235/.293/.348 across 366 plate appearances between Oakland and Boston. As has typically been the case, though, the speedster provided value on the base paths, with 29 steals (giving him 394 for his career) to go with solid reviews from FanGraphs’ BsR metric. Davis was less successful in the field, on the other hand, as he earned subpar marks in Defensive Runs Saved (minus-1) and Ultimate Zone Rating (minus-3.4) during a 117-game season divided among center field – his primary position – and the two corner spots.
The Indians’ penciled-in starting outfield for 2017 consists of three left-handed hitters (center fielder Bradley Zimmer, left fielder Michael Brantley and right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall), and righty Brandon Guyer is recovering from October wrist surgery. Davis could earn a spot with the Tribe as a platoon option, then, especially given his solid career line against southpaws (.284/.340/.432). However, he’ll face competition from fellow minor league signing and right-hander Melvin Upton Jr., among others.