Rajai Davis has joined the parade of fourth outfielders signing multi-year deals, inking a two-year pact with the Tigers worth between $9 and $10 million. Think about that for a second – roughly $5 million per season for a 33-year old player who has had a wRC+ over 100 just once and has been worth a total of 2.0 fWAR over the last two seasons.
The former Blue Jay mashes (well, for as much as a guy with his level of power can mash) lefties, to the tune of a .294/.354/.425 line, a vast improvement from his disappointing .256/.297/.354 line against right-handers. Those splits will work out well considering that Detroit's center fielder, Austin Jackson, and their left fielder, Andy Dirks, both struggled against southpaws in 2013.
Davis also will add an element of chaos on the basepaths that the Tigers haven't seen over the last two years. After stealing over 20 bases at a clip over 80% in each of 2010 and 2011, Jackson has stolen just 20 bases at just over a 60% success rate combined over the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Davis stole 45 bases at an outstanding 88% rate in 2013. The Tigers as a team swiped 35 bags at a 64% success rate. Needless to say – Davis will help in that regard. He's also a solid fielder that can play all three outfield positions, a skill the Tigers desperately needed given their current bench outfielders were utilitymen Steve Lombardozzi, who has only played left field, and Don Kelly, who isn't a good defensive outfielder.
The market for backup outfielders is all out of whack. David Murphy got $12 million from the Indians for two years. David DeJesus inked a two-year extension with the Rays for $10.5 million. Nate McLouth got $10.75 million over two years from the Nationals. The Mets picked up Chris Young for $7.25 million over one year. Compared to nearly all of those deals, Davis almost looks like a bargain when you consider the team that signed him and his skillset. The market for fourth outfielders is simply off the charts right now, and players like Jeff Baker, Tyler Colvin, Raul Ibanez, Reed Johnson, Mike Morse, and Jason Kubel could get paid more than any of us imagined just a month ago.