Jackie Bradley Jr.’s injury to his left hand spurred the Red Sox into action Wednesday as they acquired speedy veteran outfielder Rajai Davis from Oakland for 18-year-old outfielder Rafael Rincones. Boston will be Davis’ seventh professional organization, including two stints in Oakland.
Davis, 36, is fourth in the American League with 26 steals and has spent the bulk of his playing time this season in center field, where he’ll likely be stationed while Bradley is out with a sprained left thumb. Boston also could shift Andrew Benintendi or Mookie Betts around to center and put Davis in left field. In trading for Davis, Boston passed on Bryce Brentz, who hit homers Nos. 29 and 30 tonight, and the injured Rusney Castillo, although neither player is on the 40-man roster, which would have necessitated another transaction. Had Castillo, hitting .314/.350/.507, not gone on the Triple-A Pawtucket disabled list Aug. 18 with inflammation in his left knee, it’s possible he’d have gotten the call.
Davis had a memorable postseason in 2016 with the Indians when he tied Game 7 of the World Series with a two-run homer in the eighth off Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman.
Rafael Rincones, of
Rincones signed with the Red Sox out of Venezuela in 2015 for $300,000 in the same signing class as Albert Guaimaro and Simon Muzziotti, two other Venezuelans whose signings were negated by Major League Baseball after the commissioner’s office determined the Red Sox engaged in circumvention of the international bonus pools by signing several Venezuelan players in “package deals.” Rincones, who has yet to play in the U.S., is the typical lottery ticket as he stands out more for his raw tools and athleticism than his game skills, although for an 18-year-old he has done a stout job of controlling the strike zone. The Athletics scouted him before he signed with Boston and the switch-hitting outfielder has shown plus run times, a quick bat, plate discipline and at least average defense.
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RED SOX ACQUIRE
Rajai Davis, of
A 38th-round pick of the Pirates in 2001 from Connecticut-Avery Point JC, Davis was a point guard for whom baseball was a mere sidelight. But he has exceeded most expectations with his raw baseball skill to become a big league contributor for 12 seasons, amassing 11.7 wins above replacement in that time, per baseball-reference.com. Davis’ speed and stolen base acumen are his biggest tools, as he’s had five 40-steal seasons, including last season when he swiped 43 for the Indians.
He’s been far better against lefthanders in his career, posting a .285/.341/.434 slash line, compared with .253/.298/.358 against same-siders. Since the all-star break, Davis has been hot, hitting .303/.361/.487 with three homers and 11 steals. But just as important is his makeup. Davis played for the Tigers in 2014-15 under Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, who called Davis a “tremendous individual,” after the deal was announced Wednesday. He also played for Red Sox manager John Farrell in Toronto in 2011-12.
Davis, who attended New London (Conn.) High, told reporters he looked forward to playing close to home and contributing to another playoff run.