Davis a steal of a deal

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:03 AM ET

DUNEDIN — The team that has found value where little value was evident before, with players like Marco Scutaro and Jose Bautista, is trying to do it again with 30-year-old Rajai Davis.

Alex Anthopoulos had his eye on Davis last season in Oakland and when he saw what direction the A’s were going with additional outfield pickups this off-season he saw some opportunity in Davis.

“I had a sense he could be available from Oakland,” said Anthopoulos Saturday. “At the end of the year, you call all the other GMs to try to find out what they’re going to do and who might be available and I had a sense that Oakland was in talks to get David DeJesus.

“They already had Conor Jackson and (Coco) Crisp and it would push Davis to a fourth outfielder role and out of a starting spot.

“I had talked to Billy Beane and let him know we had strong interest in the player. He wanted to wait because he hadn’t completed the deal yet for DeJesus so he didn’t want to move Davis in case his deal for DeJesus fell through.

“I called every so often. I kept asking him for names. We went back and forth and finally when we came up with the right names (Daniel Farquhar and Trystan Magnuson, two minor-league relievers) things went fast.”

What the Jays saw was a speedy outfielder (50 stolen bases last year) with excellent makeup and the ability not only to play all three outfield spots but be good enough to play centre on a regular basis.

“He’s a great kid, a hard worker, very respectful and a late bloomer,” said Anthopoulos. “Someone you might expect to get better. I wouldn’t equate it to the Scutaro deal because Scutaro was an on-base guy, a shortstop, but we felt this was something of an under-valued player that had a little more upside.

“We thought in our program, with (hitting coach Dwayne Murphy), Rajai might thrive with our hitting philosophy. We also felt like, finding an outfielder who can play all three positions but can legitimately play in centre is hard to find in the free agent market at the right price.

“When you factor all that in and then the speed element he brings, putting him on turf — I think he was second in the AL in steals — we just had the sense that he might get better. He hasn’t yet had a chance to play a whole lot.”


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