A's clear outfield crunch, deal Davis to Jays
Oakland picks up pair of Minor League relief prospects
A crowded A's outfield dropped in number Wednesday when speedster Rajai Davis was sent to Toronto in exchange for Minor League pitchers Trystan Magnuson and Daniel Farquhar.
The transaction came a week after Oakland acquired outfielder David DeJesus from Kansas City -- a move which immediately made the arbitration-eligible Davis expendable, given the depth at the position. With DeJesus and Coco Crisp already in the fold, Davis was set to fight for time on the field with Ryan Sweeney, Chris Carter and non-tender candidate Conor Jackson.
"We were dealing from a position of excess," A's assistant general manager David Forst said. "It certainly felt like there were a number of teams who had interest in Raj, and he had value on the trade market. This allowed us to bring in two young arms that we believe will be contributors to the Major League bullpen hopefully sooner than later."
Much of Davis' playing time this year came as a result of injuries to several teammates, including Sweeney and Jackson. He posted a .284 average with five home runs, 52 RBIs and a career-high 50 stolen bases in 143 games for the A's and was a large part of the club's success on the basepaths. Oakland's 156 stolen bases this season represented the ninth-best single-season total in franchise history.
Davis, speaking by phone from his home in Connecticut on Wednesday, first learned of the news by way of a call from the A's front office, a move he appreciated rather than hearing of it elsewhere.
"When you get a call from the front office in the middle of November, what does that mean?" Davis said with a laugh.
The outfielder, admittedly still taking in the news, expressed excitement in knowing he could be landing a full-time gig in Toronto. For that, he thanks the A's, who claimed him off waivers from the Giants in April 2008 after he spent parts of the previous four years with San Francisco and Pittsburgh.
"I'm definitely grateful for the opportunity the Oakland A's gave me because they actually saw something that other teams missed," he said. "I'm thankful for that, that they gave me the opportunity to compete."
Despite Davis' speed and ability to stay healthy, the 30-year-old outfielder never appeared to have a defined role with the club. His departure, which eliminates some of the outfield crunch but at the same time rids the A's of an exciting player, means Jackson may be in Oakland's 2011 plans after all -- a notion general manager Billy Beane has stressed since the beginning of the offseason. However, the A's are not ready to claim anyone safe at this point.
"The 25-man roster as a whole is still a work in progress," Forst said. "We have a lot of pieces in place, but certainly nothing has been decided and won't be until we get past the tender dates, until we get to Spring Training. There's always room for pieces to move around."
By dealing Davis, who not only showcased speed on a daily basis but also constant smiles and a well-liked personality around the clubhouse, the A's received a pair of Double-A relievers in Magnuson and Farquhar.
The last time the A's dealt a regular player to Toronto was nearly three years ago to the date, on Nov. 18, 2007, when Marco Scutaro was sent to the Jays for Minor League pitchers Graham Godfrey and Kristian Bell. Neither has made it to the Major League level. Forst, though, feels confident in the club's pair of newcomers.
Magnuson, 25, posted a 3-0 record with a 2.58 ERA in 46 relief appearances for the Blue Jays' Double-A New Hampshire affiliate this season. A first-round supplemental pick by Toronto in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, he is 8-10 with a 3.53 ERA over three Minor League seasons and will need to be added to Oakland's 40-man roster to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft.
"He's got the pedigree," Forst said. "I think it took him a while to sort of figure it out, but he just had a phenomenal year at Double-A. He's 6-7 with a swing-and-miss slider."
Farquhar, meanwhile, recorded a 4-3 record with a 3.52 ERA and 17 saves alongside Magnuson in Double-A. The 23-year-old hurler was chosen by Toronto in the 10th round of the 2008 Draft and has posted an 8-9 record and 2.62 ERA with 39 saves in three professional seasons. According to A's director of player personnel Billy Owens, who has seen Farquhar pitch this fall, the righty maintains velocity in the 92-95 mph range and his "breaking stuff complements his velocity well."
"Farquhar has a big arm," Forst said. "He's only 5-10, but he throws up to 95, 96. He has a fantastic Minor League track record. He's always pitched at the back end of the bullpen in the Minor Leagues, so he has that closing mentality."
Farquhar is pitching in the Arizona Fall League for the championship game-bound Peoria Javelinas, with whom he's posted a 4.50 ERA with 12 strikeouts through 10 innings. He was initially believed to be involved in a potential trade to the Marlins for Dan Uggla before the second baseman ultimately landed in Atlanta on Tuesday.
"There apparently were rumors I was getting traded yesterday," Farquhar said. "That didn't go through. I was joking with my roommate today, 'Hey, I'm going to get traded today.' I got to the field and got the call that I'm going to Oakland.
"I'm definitely going to miss all my buddies with the Blue Jays, but it's exciting. It's a change in scenery. Going out to Arizona for Spring Training is different because I was born and raised in Florida. I've got some family in California, so I'll move a little closer to them but away from all my family in Florida."
The A's brass has always been a fan of the "can't have enough pitching" mantra. The organization is set in terms of outfield depth, and Forst said bullpen help at the Minor League level was an area of focus this winter.
"I feel very good about the guys we have in place, but we all know you can't get through the season with just six or seven bullpen guys," he said. "Considering health is a big concern for us, this is something we had talked to Toronto about, and these are two guys we liked."