Rajai Davis – The New Dave Roberts!

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Last night, rumors started circulating on Twitter, care of Nick Cafardo, that the Red Sox were on the verge of making a waiver claim or a trade.  Ken Rosenthal then followed it up by specifying that the Sox were after an outfielder.  That led my SoSHCast co-host Damian Dydyn and myself to figure out which outfielders that had cleared waivers were still left on the market:  Giancarlo Stanton, Justin Upton, Ryan Braun, Jose Bautista

…and Rajai Davis.

Evan Drellich of CSNNE then broke the news – the Red Sox had acquired Davis from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for minor-leaguer Rafael Rincones.  The immediate reaction to this trade was somewhere between “a total head-scratcher” and “a terrible prognosis for the recently injured Jackie Bradley, Jr.”  So, what can Sox Nation make of this trade?

First, let’s start with Rincones – an 18-year-old 1B/OF who has spent the last two seasons in the highly speculative Dominican Summer League.  In 57 games this season, he has slashed .258/.373/.369, with one homer, 19 RBI and eight steals, good for a 119 wRC+.  Last year, he slashed slightly better – .275/.400/.358, with just as few homers, one more RBI and fewer steals.  Chris Hatfield from SoxProspects.com says it best:

“18yo OF Rafael Rincones, traded to Oakland in Davis deal, spent 2 yrs in DSL. I can’t really say much more about him, which says it all.”

To put it bluntly, Rincones is a non-prospect.  A Player To Be Named Now.

The Sox received Rajai Davis in return, whose offensive numbers are almost equally as unremarkable – this year through 100 games, Davis has slashed .233/.294/.353, with five homers and 18 RBI.  Davis does set himself apart, though, by being a very competent defensive and speedy defensive outfielder, where he has been a league-average defensive corner outfielder, and a slightly below-average defensive center fielder this year, while swiping an impressive 26 bases.

The acquisition of Rajai Davis does not seem to spell doom for Jackie Bradley Jr – the Sox already have Chris Young, Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez, who can all play the outfield and perform much better on offense than Davis.  Davis should be viewed as “Dave Roberts 2.0” – in fact, Roberts in 2004 is almost a perfect analogy.  That year, Roberts slashed .253/.340/.356 with 33 steals with the Dodgers before the Sox picked him up at the trade deadline for non-prospect Henri Stanley.  Roberts went on to be a very famous pinch runner in the 2004 postseason.

Davis has been brought in as a pinch runner and possible late-inning defensive replacement.  Nothing more, nothing less.  However, until Bradley is activated off the DL, I will not be feeling comfortable enough to exhale.

Featured image courtesy of The Mercury News

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