After missing out on Dan Uggla yesterday, the Blue Jays moved forward today acquiring Rajai Davis from the Oakland Athletics in a deal that sent two minor league pitchers the other way. For the first time in a long time, the Jays have a speedy player who hits for average. A player they could easily bat out of the lead off spot if he makes the starting roster. Drafted by the Pirates in the 38th round of the 2001 amateur draft, 30 year old Davis has been in the big leagues since 2006. Davis spent time in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Oakland before landing today in Toronto. In 525 at bats last year, Davis batted .284, with a .320 OBP, 5 HR, and 50 stolen bases in 61 tries. In 2009 he hit .305 with a .360 OBP and 41 stolen bases in 390 at bats.
Davis can play all three outfield positions, and he brings to Toronto a threat on the base paths that this team has needed, and fans in this market have been craving for quite some time. He also seems to fit the mold for the type of player John Farrell wants for the way he's planning on running the team. Trying to make the Jays a team that can produce offense by creating and taking advantage of more scoring opportunities, rather than relying on the long ball to score runs. During his first press conference after being hired as the new manager, Farrell indicated that there was work to be done to make the Jays into "a more complete offense that can take advantages of opportunities that present themselves inside of each and every game." In other words, getting more guys on base and finding ways to get them home. The Blue Jays may have led the Majors in home runs last year with 257, but they were ranked 25 in batting average (.248), and 28 in the majors in stolen bases (58) which was good enough for last place in the American League for thefts on the base paths. Davis helps them improve in both these areas. I also think that if he's hitting atop this lineup, Davis has a great opportunity to post a career high in runs scored next season too. If the season were to start tomorrow, I think we would see Davis playing in the outfield everyday, and Jose Bautista starting at third. This, of course, will depend on what Alex Anthopoulos and his staff can get done throughout the rest of the offseason.
The Blue Jays also announced today that Mississauga native Shawn Hill has cleared unconditional waivers and is now a free agent. Hill, after recovering from a second Tommy John surgery, started four games at the end of the 2010 season for Toronto. He went 1-2 posting a 4.74 ERA.