What should the Detroit Tigers do with Rajai Davis? The speedy outfielder has enjoyed his two years with Detroit and his $5 million contract. As a free agent for the 2016 season, the rumors about Davis’s future with the Tigers have been freely flying. As a platoon player, Davis will most likely not receive a $15.8 million qualifying offer in the next few days. But, this does not mean that the Tigers should not resign Davis. In fact, he has proven that he is a valuable player with a strong bat, explosive legs, and a useful glove.
Jun 30, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder Rajai Davis (left) celebrates his walk off grand slam. Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
When Yoenis Cespedes left at the trade deadline in 2015, he left a gaping hole in the outfield. It was filled by Tyler Collins, and occasionally with Rajai Davis, who also platooned with Anthony Gose at center field. The three fielders were acceptable at their positions, especially considering that the Tigers decided to “reboot” instead of charge forward to the playoffs. If 2016 continues to be a rebuilding year, Davis is an affordable option to face left-handed pitchers when Gose and/or Collins should not.
It is easy to argue that Davis’s real asset to the team is offense. He was a clutch player in several situations in both 2014 and 2015. His walk-off grand slam against Oakland was one of the top moments of 2014. He also was responsible for a few walk-off victories in extra-inning games in September 2015 against the Rays and the White Sox, as well as a two-run home run that helped the Tigers defeat the Twins.
His speed on the base paths is another asset. Since several of the Tigers, like Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera, are no longer nimble on their feet, the Tigers can use a few player who can discombobulate the pitchers. And Davis does just that.
The intangibles also make Davis an asset to the team. He is a fan favorite and a true team player. He is a family man and drama-free, making him a likeable guy on and off the field. In the day and age when everyone is looking for drama to post on social media, Rajai Davis is completely off the radar. He makes himself available for the young fans with his big, friendly smile.At the end of the season, Davis reported that he would “absolutely” want to play in Detroit in 2016. Hopefully, Al Avila has paid attention to the 18 stolen bases and .752 OPS in 108 games. The only drawback to Davis is the fact that he is 35 years old and not getting any younger.
The other available outfielders include Alex Gordon, Justin Upton, Colby Rasmus, and Yoenis Cespedes. All of these men will earn more money than Davis in 2016. There are also some less expensive options, like Jonny Gomes, who will be 35 in 2016; Nolan Reimold, and Alejandro De Aza. Since the Tigers are already familiar with Davis, his ability and price can fill the spot nicely.