Rajai Davis can run, and that’s good enough for me. Alex Anthopoulos went out and got the Jays their first legitimate speed threat in some time yesterday, sending a pair of pitching prospects to Oakland for Davis, who hit .284 and stole 50 bases in 142 games for the Athletics last season. The 30-year-old Davis, who’s kicked around the majors since breaking in with Pittsburgh in 2004, is likely to start in the outfield and bump Jose Bautista to third, where he’ll play full-time now that Edwin Encarnacion’s taken his gold glove elsewhere (he’s actually landed in Oakland himself, having been claimed off waivers over the weekend).
After up-and-down stays in Pittsburgh and San Francisco, Davis was picked up early in 2008 by the A’s and did a pretty, pretty good job establishing himself as a quality player in the three seasons since. He spent much of his first year in Oakland as a fourth outfielder and pinch runner, nabbing 25 bases in 101 games while only getting 196 at-bats. In 2009, he hit .305 and stole 41 bases in 125 games (390 ABs) and had 28 doubles, five homers and 52 RBIs in his first full season as a starter in 2010. The downside to Davis’ game, thus far, has been his plate discipline — he drew just 26 walks last season and had a paltry .320 on-base percentage, which isn’t anything close to what you want from a guy at the top of the order, which is ideally where you want a player with 50-steal speed slotted.
As for the prospects, Oakland picks up righties Trystan Magnuson and Danny Farquhar, both of whom spent 2010 at Double-A New Hampshire. Magnuson, a 25-year-old that was a supplemental first round pick in 2007, went 3-0 with a 2.58 ERA in 46 games and Farquhar, a 23-year-old 10th rounder in 2008, went 4-3 with a 3.52 ERA and 17 saves in 53 appearance. I’m not too informed on either one, but with the pitching depth in the organization, it’s definitely a move worth making.
The deal for Davis helps the Jays shore up a day after seeing Dan Uggla, who was targeted after a 33-homer, 105-RBI season in Florida, end up in Atlanta via trade. Also, Toronto waved goodbye to catcher John Buck yesterday, as he signed a three-year, $18 million deal with the Marlins.
So, the wheels are in motion. The Davis trade doesn’t quite make the Jays an instant threat, but a deal involving prospects is a sign Anthopoulos has plans to put a winning team on the field as early as next season. What’s next, Manny Ramirez? He’s down. I’m down. Anybody else down?