|162 Game Avg.||162||521||69||129||26||5||5||44||53||30||89||.268||.316||.377||.693||87|
October 31, 2012 – Toronto declined club option on Davis ($3 million). Resigned outfielder to 1-year, $2.5 million deal.
May 11, 2013 – Davis placed on 15-day DL with strained oblique muscle.
June 4, 2013 – Davis activated from 15-day DL.
Don’t let the declined option fool you, the Toronto Blue Jays ended up paying Rajai Davis his $3 million anyway, including the $500,000 buyout on the original option. The move was meant to move at least some of the money onto their 2012 number and clear payroll for 2013. In return, the Blue Jays would maintain a low-cost, 4th ourfielder with game-changing speed, a role that Rajai Davis is best suited for.
As had been expected given his first two seasons in Toronto, the 32-year-old Davis would be seen to provide an average bat and would be a terror on the basepaths. His defense would look stellar on some plays, and lackadaisical on others. All items would fit into or exceed the image of an average 4th outfielder.
Like a lot of Toronto’s bench players, Rajai Davis ended up playing a much bigger role with the Blue Jays than just a simple sub. The injuries to Melky Cabrera, Colby Rasmus, and Jose Bautista opened the door for additional playing time for the speedy Davis, and he performed right along with his career averages across the board. His .260 average was a high for his time in Toronto and his 45 stolen bases were good for third in all of baseball. The heavy stolen base numbers lead to a healthy 10.2 BSR (Base-Running Runs Above Average) according to FanGraphs.
While it could be said that Davis made a case for himself as an everyday player, he was victimized by splits, hitting .319 with a .857 OPS against lefties while struggling to a .228 average and a .594 OPS against right-handers. He also put up an overall 18.6% K rate, which is still too high for a guy that relies on speed as his primary weapon.
Rajai Davis is due to become a free agent again upon completion of the 2013 World Series, and while the Blue Jays would entertain bringing him back as a fourth outfielder, they would only do so under a club-friendly, 1-year contract, but they also have a cheaper option in house in Anthony Gose. Davis will likely look to find a multi-year deal with a team that will give him a chance to start in 2014, something Toronto will not offer.
Whether or not such a role is available elsewhere in the game will remain to be seen, but every team will look for speed. If Davis wants a starting role, he may find it with some of the younger, rebuilding teams in the game, but only on a year-to-year basis. Regardless, Rajai Davis will find a role somewhere in 2014, and he’ll be terrorizing pitchers with his tongue hanging out of his mouth the whole while.