A’s should look to Rajai Davis to fill hole in centerfield

The A’s need a centerfielder. Free agent and former Athletic Rajai Davis can play centerfield. How has he not been on the A’s radar this offseason?

The A’s are supposedly interested in last season’s RBI leader Edwin Encarnacion as are the Cleveland Indians (and Texas Rangers) but maybe they should be looking at a reunion with their former outfielder and 2016 league leader in stolen bases, Rajai Davis.

Davis could be the centerfielder that the A’s need. They have prospects on their way up who are not yet major league ready, and their current in-house options, Brett Eibner and Jake Smolinski, simply leave something to be desired.

Davis easily has the speed to cover the vast space that makes up the Oakland Coliseum’s outfield. He can play all three outfield positions and even played second base for the A’s back in 2008.

Davis also had his best year batting in 2009 at the Coliseum. He hit .305 with a .360 on-base percentage that season. Half of his 125 games that season were played in the pitcher friendly confines of the Coliseum.

The A’s used him as more of a fourth outfielder then, but playing in more games at the Coliseum may be fruitful for Davis.

His speed not just in the outfield but on the basepaths has to also be noted. Just last season at age 35 he led the league in stolen bases with 43 out of his 49 attempts, which is pretty incredible when you think about it.

The A’s may not be shopping for a base stealing ace but they should be, given the fact that they traded the speedy Billy Burns to the Kansas City Royals at the trade deadline last summer.

Plus, while he may not be a Gold Glove centerfielder, he’s an upgrade to both Smolinski and Eibner. Neither are terrible, but the Athletics need a solid centerfielder more so than a platoon first baseman and designated hitter, which is what they would get if they ended up being able to sign Encarnacion.

Davis

Rajai Davis. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Bringing up Encarnacion makes another point strikingly obvious and very important when it comes to the Oakland A’s. Encarnacion at one point was looking for a multi-year deal worth approximately 80 million.

That is something the A’s will not be able to afford until a new stadium is built in Oakland, or maybe ever. Davis on the other hand, made approximately 5.2 million in 2016. Even with a modest raise, the A’s would be looking a six or seven million a year player.

They’d even be able to sign him to a short but still multi-year deal, guaranteeing they would have a solid centerfielder until their prospects are MLB ready.

Davis will already be playing in his 36-year-old season in 2017 so his years as a big leaguer are dwindling. The Athletics could easily offer him a two or three-year deal that might make him one of the highest paid players on the team.

Not to forget he’d be cheaper than former centerfielder and long time Athletic, Coco Crisp who, had they kept, would have been making 13 million for just the 2017 season.

Davis

Rajai Davis. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

A two or three year deal would more than likely take Davis through the remainder of his career. That would be hard to turn down, being guaranteed a decent salary through the end of his big league days.

He’s a perfect fit for Oakland, who this time around would actually need his services much more than they did between 2008 and 2010.

It’s amazing that there haven’t been rumors of the Athletics and Davis being linked.

The A’s need a centerfielder and there is one out there who knows the Coliseum, led the league in stolen bases last season and could be a versatile player for the team.

He fulfills their need in the outfield and has the added bonus of being a master base stealer.

He may not be the home run hitter that Encarnacion is but let’s not forget the grand slam walk-off homer against the A’s in 2014 while he was with the Detroit Tigers, or his eighth inning heroics in game seven of this year’s World Series.

Bottom line: The A’s need to start talking with Davis’ people before he is picked up by another team.

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