The Oakland A's added to their 2017 outfield depth on Tuesday, signing veteran outfielder Rajai Davis to a one-year free agent deal. According to Yahoo! Sports Jeff Passan, the deal is worth $6 million. To make room for Davis on the A's 40-man roster, Oakland designated utilityman Max Muncy for assignment.
Davis returns to the place where his major-league career got off the ground. A 38th-round pick in 2001 by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Davis had appeared in 107 major league games for the Pirates and the San Francisco Giants when he joined the A's on a waiver claim early in the 2008 season. He would spend the 2008-2010 seasons with the A's, hitting .287 with 116 stolen bases during that stretch. In 2009, Davis hit .305 with 41 stolen bases in 125 games. He followed that up with a 2010 season during which he hit .284 with 50 stolen bases.
Davis joined the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011 and remained with the Jays through the 2013 season. He spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons with the Detroit Tigers before spending 2016 with the Cleveland Indians. In 2016, he stole 43 bases and hit 12 homers while posting a .249/.307/.388 line in 134 games. During the World Series, Davis hit one of the most memorable homeruns in post-season history, a game-tying shot off of Aroldis Chapman in the eighth inning of Game Seven.
The 11-year veteran brings a .267/.315/.287 line with 365 stolen bases in his career. Davis is 36 but is still one of the top base-stealers in baseball and will bring that dynamic to an Oakland A's team that stole 50 bases total in 2016. He is also one of the most well-respected players in baseball and should improve a clubhouse dynamic that struggled to gel last season.
Davis joins Matt Joyce as the only major-league free agents signed by Oakland so far this off-season. The A's are thin in outfielders, especially in centerfield, in the upper-levels of their farm system and Davis will give the A's a one-year bridge to either Jaycob Brugman or someone not currently playing centerfield -- such as Franklin Barreto -- from being thrust into an everyday job with the A's, or will give the A's an opportunity to explore the trade or free agent market for another centerfielder later this season or next off-season.
The A's designated Muncy for assignment to make room for Davis. Muncy, the A's 2012 fifth-round pick, split the past two seasons between Oakland and Triple-A Nashville. In 96 major league games, Muncy hit .195/.290/.321. He is a career .268/.375/.425 hitter in six minor league seasons.
A first baseman for most of his career, Muncy has added considerable defensive versatility to his resume the past three seasons. He is now a capable fielder at first, second and third base, as well as in the corner outfield. Muncy has a good eye at the plate and posted a 20:24 BB:K in the major leagues last season. He has fallen behind other A's prospects on the depth chart at the various positions that he plays, although if he clears waivers and remains in the organization, Muncy figures to still be competitive for a spot on the A's roster at various points in 2017.
A's release seven
According to Baseball America's Matt Eddy, the Oakland A's released seven minor leaguers last month: RHP Ryan Brasier, RHP Koby Gauna, RHP Emerson Nelo, RHP Phillip Ortiz, LHP Kevin Ferreras, LHP Victor Veliz and OF Robert Martinez.
Brasier, who re-signed with the A's as a minor league free agent this off-season, was released to be allowed to pursue opportunities to play overseas. He had a 3.56 ERA and 70 strike-outs in 60.2 innings for Nashville last season.
Gauna was the A's 20th-round pick in 2014 out of Cal-State Fullerton. He had a 2.08 ERA and 12 saves for Vermont in 2014 but missed the first 50 games of the 2015 season when he was suspended for violating baseball's drug policy. When he returned, he joined Low-A Beloit and posted a 1.55 ERA in 52.1 innings. In 2016, Gauna spent the season with High-A Stockton. He had a 3.54 ERA in 68.2 innings with a 35:24 K:BB. Gauna is a groundball specialist with a career 1.82 GO/AO.
Nelo signed with the A's out of Venezuela before the 2014 season. He spent a year in the Dominican Summer League before coming stateside in 2015. He spent the past two seasons in the Arizona Rookie League and has a career 3.53 ERA in 99.1 innings. Last season, he had a 7.82 ERA in 25.1 innings for the AZL A's.
Ortiz, who signed with the A's out of Puerto Rico before the 2013 season, was a teammate of Nelo's the past two seasons in the AZL. Ortiz made only three appearances last year and has only 41.2 career innings in four minor league seasons.
Ferreras joined the A's as a free agent in 2012 after being released by the Marlins. He spent two seasons in the DSL before coming to the states and splitting the 2014 and 2015 seasons between Vermont and Arizona. In 2016, Ferreras spent the entire year in Arizona and he had a 5.06 ERA in 21.1 innings.
Veliz signed with the A's out of Venezuela before the 2011 season. He made his US debut in 2014 and, over the past three seasons, made appearances for every A's US affiliate except for Double-A Midland. He has a career 3.39 ERA in 252.1 innings. Last season, he spent most of the year with Stockton, posting a 7.24 ERA in 27.1 innings.
Martinez was the A's 19th-round pick in 2012 out of Puerto Rico high school. The outfielder was a rising prospect in the A's system after a 2014 season when he posted a 749 OPS in 48 games. He struggled with Low-A Beloit in 2015 and injuries stalled his progress in 2016. He is a career .210/.312/.350 line in 220 games.