• Rajai Davis and the Twins Outfield Depth

    Late on Monday night, rumors began circulating (originating from friend of Twins Daily, Darren Wolfson) that the Minnesota Twins are interested in outfielder Rajai Davis, maybe even willing to go to two years with him.

    Immediately I had some thoughts on the idea of Davis with the Twins and what he might be able to do for the organization. My first thought is always: What does it mean for the Twins' outfield depth? (Note - Ben Nicholson-Smith says "industry sources" indicate the Detroit Tigers may be the favorite for Davis at this time.)

    So, I thought I'd take a look at the Twins outfield situation.

    First though, let's take a look at Rajai Davis. He is a player I have always liked because of his speed. His yearly stolen base totals in the big leagues going back to 2008 are: 29, 41, 50, 34, 46, 45. He has spent the last three seasons with the Blue Jays and has hit .252/.299/.369 with 61 doubles, 11 triples and 15 home runs. He was their regular centerfielder in 2011, but the last two years, since Colby Rasmus came over to the Jays, he has played the two corner outfield spots. With the Twins, he could potentially start in center or left field. Before Toronto, Davis played for Oakland, Pittsburgh and San Francisco.

    He will be 33 years old through the 2014 season, and his game is about speed. I like him as a fourth outfielder and as a guy who can compete with Alex Presley and Aaron Hicks for the starting centerfield job. Ideally, he is a fourth outfielder on a good team, but he can also be a placeholder for Byron Buxton.

    With that said, here is a brief look at the Twins outfield situation:

    Josh Willingham - He is likely to begin the season as the team's left fielder. Though his best defensive position is designated hitter, he has more trade value if he proves healthy and can play defense; it would make him a possible trade target for National League teams. He had a down year last season, likely largely due to injuries, but we know he's got the ability to hit the ball out of the park.

    Alex Presley - Acquired last August in the Justin Morneau deal, Presley played adequately over the final month. He will compete for the starting centerfield job in spring training and if he isn't starting he is a solid fourth or fifth outfield option.

    Aaron Hicks - Handed the starting centerfield job out of spring training a year ago, he had a very difficult transition in his jump from AA to the big leagues. But the potential is still there, and he likely learned a ton from 2013. Hopefully he can make some adjustments and at some point in 2014, he could come up for good.

    Oswaldo Arcia - Having played center field and right field in the minors, the Twins called up Arcia and had him play a lot of left field. His defense was in Willingham's category out there. My belief is he can be an adequate, maybe average, defensive right fielder. The man can flat-out hit and has a ton of power. I wouldn't trade him, but in a trade he could bring back something big!

    Chris Parmelee - Started a lot of games in right field a year ago and impressed with his glove and a generally accurate arm. The bat didn't come around with any consistency in 2013, but he does still have potential. He is also out of options. With Joe Mauer moving to first base, left or right field will become important to Parmelee's playing time.

    Chris Colabello - See Chris Parmelee. Colabello dominated AAA a year ago, but he struggled with the Twins. He had played very little outfield in his career before playing some right field with the Twins.

    Darin Mastroianni - He was hurt throughout the 2013 season. Even when he came back, he struggled and clearly was not at 100%, Speed is his game. He can play all three outfield spots. He is a candidate to be DFA'ed if the Twins sign Davis.

    Byron Buxton - Baseball's #1 prospect will likely be invited to big league spring training. It is possible he surfaces with the Twins in the season's second half and never looks back.

    Eddie Rosario - He has played second base most of the last two years, but with the emergence of Brian Dozier at second base, it appears the Twins are looking to move Rosario back to the outfield. Honestly, that's where he should be. He is a natural, gifted outfielder with a very strong arm. His bat may not have huge home run power, but he can hit, uses the whole field and hits a lot of doubles. That potential/rumored 50 game suspension certainly hurts his chances of debuting in 2014.

    I would not be against the signing of Rajai Davis by the Twins. Of course, that depends on the years and the money. A one year, $2-3 million deal makes sense. A two year, $4-5 million deal makes sense. Anything beyond that doesn't make sense. It's all part of the picture.

    The beauty of the week of Winter Meetings is that rumors are abundant. How many are true? Some. With each rumor it's nice to be able to go through an exercise like this, looking at those currently on the roster and those in the near-future plans, to see what makes sense. To me, a 2015 outfield of Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Aaron Hicks, with Oswaldo Arcia as the DH and Rajai Davis or Alex Presley as the fourth outfielder looks and sounds pretty good.

    So, what are your thoughts? Should the Twins be interested in or sign Rajai Davis? What does it mean for the future?
    Comments 50 Comments
    1. howeda7's Avatar
      howeda7 -
      Unless he's going to start in CF, I'm not sure I understand this too much. I'm reasonably comfortable with a Pressley/Mastro platoon in center (or Hicks if he lights it up.)

      Davis has not been a regular CF'er since 2010 so I have to imagine he's either being looked at as a 4th OF'er or they intend to DH Willingham.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      You can view the page at http://www.twinsdaily.com/content.ph...Outfield-Depth
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Other then the Kids, and the DH , all we have a 4th and 5th outfielders, why sign another?
      Just saying Davis had a 1.8 WAR last year dispite having a Neg.-D-WAR
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      The speed is good, but he can't be a leadoff hitter. I like the potential defense of Davis-Hicks-Presley/Parmelee to begin the season, certainly. An OF of Willingham-Davis-Arcia is possible, however, and that would be disturbing. Davis is good and I like him as an actual 4th OF.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      I think there is a scenario where it makes sense to bring him here. He can compete with Presley for the CF job with Mastroianni. (also i think signing him says alot about how the Twins feel about Mastroianni's prospects of making the team). He can also have Presley move to LF and let Willingham DH. or Presley can move to RF if both Hicks and Arcia are not cutting it in the majors.... or ther could be another trade comming that we dont know about guarenteeing him a starting job all season. I see him as redundant however unless the trade angle or willingham to DH angle takes hold but even then Davis is just a place holder starter.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Unless the Twins intend to sign a premier OF, this is a waste of time. The roster is loaded with marginal players, there is no need to sign another.
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      We give a lot of deference on this site to Jason Parks at Baseball Prospectus. Parks rates our minor league system the best of all including Buxton as basically one of a kind. There's still Hicks and Presley, Arcia, Willingham for one more year, whoever else. So what would be the point of pursuing Rajai Davis? on a multi year deal?
    1. North Dakota Twins Fan's Avatar
      North Dakota Twins Fan -
      Latest report on mlbtraderumors has Tigers as favorites to sign him with Twins still in mix. I'd love having Davis as a 4th OF with that speed on the basepaths.
    1. Otwins's Avatar
      Otwins -
      Improves your outfield defense. Can be a late game pinch runner. Defensive replacement if you have Willingham or Arcia in the outfield. Pinch hit for Florimon. I think he would be useful. I would love the Twins to get to Seth's suggested OF of Rosario, Buxton and Hicks with a good 4th OFer. Best thing we could do for the pitching staff.
    1. tmerrickkeller's Avatar
      tmerrickkeller -
      The Twins traded JJHardy and brought in Nishi because of the desire to increase the speed of their lineup. While we have some speed available (Presley, Mastro, Hicks) we don't have a base stealer on the team, and it isn't a quality we have in great quantities in the minor league. If the issue is whether Davis' potential as a base-stealer outweighs Presley AND Mastro (with whom he is more redundant than our other outfielders), then fine. I think he's a reasonable 4th OF and an upgrade at a cheap price (and you always need a guy who can steal a base in the 9th in a close game, and we don't have that guy right now).

      I just don't see us putting Presley, Hicks, and Davis (or, frankly, even two of the three at the outset of the season) in the outfield simultaneously, even though the speed and defense would be beneficial. That strategy just blocks any effort to use Willingham, Arcia, Doumit, Parmelee, Plouffe (if Sano plays third), Colabello, etc., etc., and relegates every single one of them to DH/platoon, and prevents us showcasing any of them.

      Just like a balanced budget, you have to talk about what comes off the 40-man roster with each person you add to it....I say if it is simply a swap for Mastro, since we have Presley (who is also a swap for Mastro), then fine. Any more ambitious plans and this makes little sense.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I don't think I am crazy in saying this:

      Davis is an improvement over Presley, Mastroianni, all the minor league filler of the past few years, and potentially Parmelee and Colabello. Now that alone still might not be enough for me to want him, but if Willingham is to be dealt (please, seriously), then Davis is actually a cheap upgrade over much of the nonsense we have seen the past two years. I don't think the Twins have the right idea in mind, but whatever. I would trade Willingham, play Davis in a platoon with Presley or Parmelee, and start Hicks in CF.
    1. Trevor0333's Avatar
      Trevor0333 -
      Davis is looking for a chance to start so if he comes to the Twins they told him the job is his too lose.

      Hicks needs to start in AAA, if Parmelee starts with the team, Doumit has no place on the roster.
    1. Trevor0333's Avatar
      Trevor0333 -
      I'm sure they envision a OF of Rosario, Buxton, Hicks with Arcia at DH & playing 50-60 games a season in the OF.

      Davis makes sense to have at least a good defense in the OF until the hitters come along.
    1. Erock's Avatar
      Erock -
      He makes sense as a platoon and strengthens the outfield defense. Either way, I want someone fast in one of the corners this year.
    1. pierre75275's Avatar
      pierre75275 -
      There is no need to bring in Davis. we already have enough marginal players on the team to play outfield and it makes little sense to try to "fit him in" at a multi million dollar contract when we can get basically the same production from Mastro/Pressly
    1. AM.'s Avatar
      AM. -
      Yawn.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Well, when you have money to burn, it's hard to be too critical. But this is just weird. I'm all about creating competition to keep people on their toes, but he seems awfully redundant.
    1. SgtSchmidt11's Avatar
      SgtSchmidt11 -
      Rosario, Hicks, and Buxton have no business being in the majors right now. Colabello and Parms shouldn't be playing either. Presley is on the fence and Mastro is slightly worse. Hammer is a DH. Arcia needs to be playing. Basically he'd be the second/third best OF on the team after Arcia.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Both Alex Presley and Darin Mastroianni hit just as well as (or better than) Rajai Davis. They both have speed, and I'd consider Mastroianni's baserunning to be more or less on the same level as Davis, though he has less of a track record. They're both considerably younger than Davis. And Mastroianni and Presley together cost less than Davis will.

      I want nothing to do with this guy.
    1. josecordoba's Avatar
      josecordoba -
      He's heading to Detroit according to Doogie, so time to move on.
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