Monday marked the beginning of MLB’s annual Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla., and with it came a slew of free agent signings and trades.
Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski has never hesitated to make a splash at the meetings. In 2007, they traded prospects to the Florida Marlins for eventual two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera, and in 2009, traded Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson for Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth.
Tuesday morning, Dombrowski made another move, however perhaps not as big. The Tigers signed left fielder Rajai Davis, 32, to a two-year, $10 million deal.
While fans may not be enamored by the move, or perhaps not even know who Davis is, this was the definition of a low-risk, high-reward deal. Davis played last year with the Toronto Blue Jays, where he put up a hitting line of only .260/.312/.375 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage).
What Davis lacks at the plate, he makes up for on the basepaths. He stole 45 bases in 2013 while only appearing in 108 games. In comparison, the Tigers as a team only stole 35 bases, by far the worst mark in the Majors.
It is likely that Davis will platoon in left field with Andy Dirks, while primarily playing against left-handed pitchers. Davis hit .319 against southpaws last year while only hitting .228 against righties. He will also serve as a pinch runner in games where Dirks gets the start in left.
It appears that with the signing of Davis, the Tigers, barring any trades, have their position players set for 2014. They will now look to add bullpen depth, according to Dombrowski.
While Davis may not have been the flashy move that Tigers fans may have been hoping for from Dombrowski, it will certainly help them save money to re-sign 2013 Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer. The Tigers finally have a speedy threat on the basepaths, something that has seemed to be a missing piece on the Tigers for years.
Michael Higer is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.
Photo: Canadian Baseball Network