• 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. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      a. An important point in that list of current Twins' OF is that 7 of them are on the 40 man roster (and I do not view Rosario as an OF at this point and Buxton will not be up there in 2014) and adding Doumit, who should be on the list as well, makes 8. Unless the Twins move some for some actual return, adding another guy who maybe be a marginal improvement over Mastroianni and Presley is moot. The can have a good field light hit OF now with those 2 and Hicks, which can actually be a good late innings defensive OF. I hate the fact that the Twins have been giving players away recently; about time that trend reverses

      b. The Twins have way to many holes right now to think about improving their 4th OF. Getting an extra half a win out of their fourth OF, is not just a luxury in a 99+96+96 loss team, it is simply silliness when it becomes a priority over bigger issues.

      c. If they want to drive up the price that Detroit will pay, I say excellent work!
    1. josecordoba's Avatar
      josecordoba -
      A move like this is fine in theory. This is one thing that Oakland does well is fill out the fringes of their roster. Perhaps it's part of a bigger problem that such players should be attainable for league minimum on a forty-man roster.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Redundant how? They have 1 OF on the roster right now, Arcia. Wilingham should be the DH, and never see LF again for an AL team. Hicks is an unknown. That leaves a bunch of AAAA/bakcup types. Why not sign him?
    1. crarko's Avatar
      crarko -
      I get the feeling this is a 'drive up the price for the Tigers' move. Sounds like Detroit is more serious about this.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      a. An important point in that list of current Twins' OF is that 7 of them are on the 40 man roster (and I do not view Rosario as an OF at this point and Buxton will not be up there in 2014) and adding Doumit, who should be on the list as well, makes 8. Unless the Twins move some for some actual return, adding another guy who maybe be a marginal improvement over Mastroianni and Presley is moot. The can have a good field light hit OF now with those 2 and Hicks, which can actually be a good late innings defensive OF. I hate the fact that the Twins have been giving players away recently; about time that trend reverses
      I agree with the sentiment that I'm not really sure Rajai brings much to the Twins roster and that 2014 should be used to answer some 40 man questions with the goal of jettisoning a bunch of these guys for 2015.

      But outside of Hendriks, what players have the Twins given away?
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by crarko View Post
      I get the feeling this is a 'drive up the price for the Tigers' move. Sounds like Detroit is more serious about this.
      Maybe it's just me but driving up player prices doesn't sound like JR's modus operandi. He has always struck me as a guy who goes after a player because he wants him, not because he's trying to drive up the price or keep him out of a division rival's hands.

      For good or bad, that's just the guy he seems to be. He doesn't come across as the slightest bit devious.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Redundant how? They have 1 OF on the roster right now, Arcia. Wilingham should be the DH, and never see LF again for an AL team. Hicks is an unknown. That leaves a bunch of AAAA/bakcup types. Why not sign him?
      Last season was the best of the last 3 on the plate for Davis. His slash line: .260/.312/.375 ; his career slash line an almost identical .268/.316/.377. He will be 33 next season so about to decline for a guy whose single major tool as a batter is his defense.

      In 2012 when healthy, Mastroianni hit .252/.328/.350 for the Twins. Presley hit .283/.336/.363 last season and .264/.304/.411 for his career. Both of these guys are 5 years younger than Davis.

      If their numbers are not close to Davis, I don't know how you get any closer. And if these guys are AAAA, then Davis is too... These 2 make Davis redundant, not Parmelee, Willingham, Doumit and Colabello...
    1. ericchri's Avatar
      ericchri -
      They need to start shedding guys from their roster to make moves like this. I don't mind a slight upgrade over existing talent, and this would be, I'm just curious who they would drop to make this happen. They've seemed so reluctant to cut people loose previously (though the Liam Hendriks move may be a sign of change) that I struggle to see this happening.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      But outside of Hendriks, what players have the Twins given away?
      The off-season is still young

      Liriano
      Slowey
      Mijares
      Casilla
      Valencia
      Young
      Thome
      Dickey
      Breslow
      Ayala

      etc etc
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      The off-season is still young

      Liriano
      Slowey
      Mijares
      Casilla
      Valencia
      Young
      Thome
      Dickey
      Breslow
      Ayala

      etc etc
      Today I learned that Jim Thome was a pitcher.

      Also, look at the dates in the post you're quoting. What happened in 2008 isn't relevant to solidifying the 40-man for 2015.
    1. crarko's Avatar
      crarko -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Maybe it's just me but driving up player prices doesn't sound like JR's modus operandi. He has always struck me as a guy who goes after a player because he wants him, not because he's trying to drive up the price or keep him out of a division rival's hands.

      For good or bad, that's just the guy he seems to be. He doesn't come across as the slightest bit devious.
      I think that's definitely been his history, but this seems like the year for trying different tactics, and he's showing a willingness to do that.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by crarko View Post
      I think that's definitely been his history, but this seems like the year for trying different tactics, and he's showing a willingness to do that.
      True. He does seem to be a very different animal this offseason.
    1. twinsajsf's Avatar
      twinsajsf -
      I'm fine with not getting Rajai Davis, especially on a 2-yr. deal. Let's let Hicks, Presley and Mastro fight it out as place holders until Buxton is ready, since we aren't likely to be in contention until 2015 anyway. We'll know more about these four, as well as Parmelee, Arcia and possibly Rosario after 2014, and with Willy coming off the books, we can decide then whether we need to invest in another outfielder.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Apparently if a free agent player wants to sign quickly, just tell me to write an article on them (AJP, Davis) and you'll sign by morning!
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Apparently if a free agent player wants to sign quickly, just tell me to write an article on them (AJP, Davis) and you'll sign by morning!
      Seth, why don't you right something about John Buck and about Bronson Arroyo while you are still hot?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Fair enough, Thrylos. I over estimated his ability......doesn't matter now.
    1. twinscowboysbulls's Avatar
      twinscowboysbulls -
      Quote Originally Posted by 70charger View Post
      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.
      I put him on my blueprint wishlist, Just thought he'd be a nice stopgap before Hicks gets back to the club and then a nice 4th OF for a couple years. I think we either need to add an OF in FA or start Hicks in CF from the get-go again. Outfield defense is very important at TF and especially with the new pitchers added.

      We cannot have an everyday outfields like this:
      Willingham-Mastro-Arcia
      Willingham-Pressley-Arcia
      Willingham-Mastro-Parmelee
      Willingham-Pressley-Parmelee
      Willingham-Mastro-Doumit
      Willingham-Pressley-Doumit
      Willingham-Mastro-Colabello
      Willingham-Pressley-Colabello
      Mastro-Pressley-Arcia
      Mastro-Pressley-Arcia
      Arcia- Pressley- Doumit/Parmelee/Doumit

      Okay, you get the point. We are in position to be one of these two options:
      A) An outfield that is AWFUL defensively.
      B) An outfield that is AWFUL offensively.

      My preferred choice, if we don't add an OF would be to dump Doumit. This would guarantee he is not going to play any OF for us. Also allow Willingham to DH 70% of time. If this were able to happen, I'd be okay going like this:

      LF: Mastro 50g, Pressley 70g, Willingham 25g, Plouffe 18g
      CF: Hicks 155g, Pressley 8g
      RF: Arcia 120g, Pressley 10g, Parmelee 25g, Mastro 8g
      DH: Willingham 114g, Arcia 30g, Parmelee 19g

      Hicks- 155 games total between OF/DH
      Arcia- 150 games
      Mastro- 58 games
      Pressley- 88 games
      Willingham- 139 games
      Plouffe- 18 games
      Parmelee- 44 games

      Hopefully mid-year Sano is healthy and raking and pushes Plouffe into OF role. Also hopefully late in the year Buxton would move into CF shifting Hicks to LF and putting either Pressley or Mastro out of business, I think either would be fine as a 4th outfielder, so whoever is controllable for longer probably sticks around. (I'm guessing that would be Pressley?)

      There are many benefits to that lineup.
      1. You find out what we have in Hicks.
      2. Find out if Pressley is able to stick as a stopgap/4th outfielder.
      3. Find out if Arcia can be marginal in RF.
      4. Hopefully build Willingham's value to trade at all-star break.
      5. Should be a solid group defensively, with some potential for power.
    1. twinscowboysbulls's Avatar
      twinscowboysbulls -
      BTW, I'd love to trade for Span, I believe his value is incredibly lower than last year.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Davis is better than Mastro. Arguably offers more than Presley. Hits a career .294 split vs. lefties and would be the Twins only legitimate base stealing threat. He had a +6 runs for his rbaser (tied with Trout) last year. So if a game is close, did you see what Billy Hamilton did for the Reds last year in those last 13 games of the season? Baserunning matters, it's fun to watch, and it'll make relievers for the other team more likely to make mistake pitches or throw a ball away on a pickoffs, etc.

      For $2.5M...2 years...not a big risk.

      I agree with what Shane Wahl said.

      Hicks needs to start unless he gives a lot of reasons why he shouldn't start. He raked in Spring Training last year...so it'll have to be what he has done to address specific holes - and largely, confidence.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      How about 4.5 to 5 mill per year, which is what he signed for in DET?

      Thankfully the Twins passed on Davis at that cost.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.