The Oakland A's have agreed to terms with outfielder Matt Joyce on a two-year deal, according to FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal. Joyce, who had a career year with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2016, reportedly will receive $11 million over that two-year deal. UPDATE: The A's officially announced the signing at 9:45am PST. To make room for Joyce on the roster, they designated 1B Rangel Ravelo for assignment.
Joyce returns to the AL West a year removed from a disastrous 2015 campaign with the Los Angeles Angels, during which he hit .174/.272/.291 in 93 games. Joyce rebounded with Pittsburgh to post a career-best slashline of .242/.403/.463 in 140 games. He hit 13 homers and walked 59 times.
Joyce began his career in the Detroit Tigers' organization and was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays before the 2009 season for Edwin Jackson. Joyce spent six seasons in Tampa and made the AL All-Star team in 2011, when he hit .277/.347/.478 with 13 homers. He has a career line of .242/.341/.429 in 958 games. All but one of his nine major-league seasons have come in the American League.
The Florida native is a corner outfielder who has struggled defensively throughout his career. If the A's can find a way to DH him, Joyce could be an upgrade for Oakland at a DH position where they collectively hit .237/.293/.412 last season. However, if Joyce has to play in the field on a daily basis, much of his offensive contributions could be negated by his poor defense.
Joyce should receive many of the at-bats that went to Danny Valencia last season. Valencia, who was traded to Seattle earlier this off-season, hit .287/.346/.446 in 130 games in 2016. Joyce isn't likely to hit for as much homerun power or for as high of average as Valencia did, but he could reach base at a much higher clip. Unlike Valencia -- who played against both lefties and righties -- Joyce is a strong candidate to be part of a platoon. He is a career .252/.353/.449 hitter versus righties but has hit only .185/.265/.310 against lefties.
In some ways, Joyce fills some holes for the A's. Oakland posted a team OBP of .304 last season and is in desperate need of hitters who can reach base regularly. Joyce has always done a good job of controlling the strike-zone and making regular contact. If he can be the on-base machine he was with Pittsburgh last season, Joyce could give plenty of RBI opportunities to the A's big hitters in the middle of the line-up, such as Khris Davis and Ryon Healy. He makes for a natural platoon partner with Mark Canha, who missed much of last season with injury but is a right-handed hitting corner outfielder.
On the flip side, Joyce brings more of the same to the A's roster. He is a player who has some strong skills but also some glaring weaknesses. The A's have a number of those already on the roster and manager Bob Melvin will once again be tasked with trying to balance a roster that may have too many square pegs for round holes. The A's still have a significant hole in centerfield and at the top of their line-up that they need to address. The A's also are still lacking in team speed and have added yet another poor defender to a poor defensive club.
Joyce's presence on the roster makes it less likely that the A's carry Matt Olson on Opening Day, unless the team moves Yonder Alonso. While Olson had an up-and-down year in Triple-A in 2016, he offers much the same OBP prowess as Joyce and potentially more power and a better glove. Olson will still be in the system, of course, but it would be nice to see what he can do at the big league level, especially in a year when the A's aren't likely to compete.
All in all, this isn't a bad signing, especially at $5.5 million a year, but it isn't likely to bring the A's much closer to being competitive than they were with Valencia or would be with Olson.null