This is the sixth of a multipart Around the Horn series that features a position-by-position look at the A's projected starters and backup options heading into the 2017 season.Who's in the outfield? Left fielder Khris Davis, who bopped 42 home runs last season, has new company -- center fielder Rajai
This is the sixth of a multipart Around the Horn series that features a position-by-position look at the A's projected starters and backup options heading into the 2017 season.
Who's in the outfield?
Left fielder Khris Davis, who bopped 42 home runs last season, has new company -- center fielder Rajai Davis is back with the A's on a one-year deal, and Matt Joyce signed on for two years in a likely platoon role in right field. Joyce's partner has not yet been determined, but the two primary candidates are Mark Canha and Jake Smolinski. A month's worth of Cactus League play will help the A's sort this out.
Khris Davis brings the pop, while Rajai Davis provides the speed. The 36-year-old veteran remains one of the biggest base-stealing threats in the game, and will likely be counted on to hit at the top of this Oakland lineup. Rajai Davis hit .249/.306/.388 with 12 homers and an American League-high 43 steals for the Indians last year.
Joyce, 32, hit .242/.403/.463 with 13 home runs in 293 plate appearances for the Pirates last season, and also led pinch-hitters in RBIs and walks, while tying for the lead with four homers. He hits righties well, allowing the A's to set up a traditional platoon that could result in high production, particularly if Canha picks up where he left off in a breakout 2015 rookie campaign. He missed the majority of 2016 recovering from hip surgery.
Rajai Davis represents a tremendous upgrade on defense in center field, which was occupied by Smolinski, Billy Burns and Coco Crisp at different times last year. Khris Davis and Joyce, however, aren't considered plus defenders.
Keep an eye on Matt Olson in camp. Though groomed as a first baseman for much of his Minor League career, Olson -- ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the club's No. 15 prospect -- has found his footing in right field in recent years. The power-hitting Olson is unlikely to break camp with the club, but he still remains on the A's radar.
Then, there's Jaycob Brugman, who will be in big league camp for the first time this year. He was added to the 40-man roster in the offseason, after batting .285 with 12 home runs and 87 RBIs between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Nashville last year. He can play all three outfield spots.
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.