During the first day of the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings it first came out that Rajai Davis was near a new deal but the rumors seemed to suggest the Baltimore Orioles had a shot at him. The night ended with the Orioles GM saying they wouldn’t likely get Davis this week. This morning the Detroit Tigers made their signing of Davis official and greatly upgraded their outfield situation by doing so.
It has been pointed out that Davis had struggles in a somewhat part-time role with the Toronto Blue Jays and that is true to a point. Looking deeper at the numbers however you can clearly see the value in adding Davis to the outfield roster in Detroit. His WAR was just below 2 which is fairly good for someone thought to have struggled.
In the outfield he isn’t exactly going to threaten a starting job on defense. He very well could platoon or fill a fourth outfielder role however. Especially with a team that had outfield injuries last season, that is quite a value in itself. On offense things change a little bit, especially on the base paths.
According to Fangraphs only Jacoby Ellsbury was more valuable on the bases last season than Davis. Whether it is in filling a fourth outfielder role where he comes off the bench or even pinch-runs late in the game, Davis is an upgrade for a team looking to get back to the postseason. Even if Davis’ skills seem to fade into the background during the season, they will show up as valuable in the postseason.