On Oct. 31, it was announced that the Toronto Blue Jays will be bringing back outfielder Rajai Davis after declining his team option for the 2013 season but re-signing him to a reduced contract. The new agreement is for one year and $2.5 million. In addition, the Jays announced that they were exercising their $3 million team option on left-handed reliever Darren Oliver, who is still contemplating retirement.
The move by Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos with respect to Davis seems to confirm that the Jays are set with the outfield heading into 2013 and will focus their attention elsewhere this offseason. Center field and right field were already set with Colby Rasmus and superstar Jose Bautista. Davis will be expected to platoon in left with Anthony Gose and/or Moises Sierra.
Regardless of the fact he probably won't be called on to play every day, bringing back Davis is a great move. He finished second in the American League in stolen bases last year with 46 and can give the Jays a boost on the base paths, whether he is in the top of the order or coming off the bench to pinch run. In addition, it is not outside the realm of possibility that Davis can regain the form at the plate he had with the Oakland A's in 2009 and 2010 when he hit .305 and .284, respectively. If Davis is able to produce at that high of a level, he would slot in nicely at the top of the Jays' order and allow Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus to move down to spots where they would seem to be a better fit.
With respect to Oliver, exercising the option was a no-brainer. The 42-year-old was magnificent in 2012, appearing in 62 games and finishing with a 2.06 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. Oliver has suggested that he is leaning toward retirement, but exercising the option was a no-risk move for the Jays. If he comes back, the team will have a solid left-hander to anchor the bullpen for 2013 and, if the team falls out of contention, he will surely serve as a potential trade chip in July. If he retires, Anthopoulos can look elsewhere for a left-hander to come out of the bullpen.
Now that two roster spots have been secured, Anthopoulos can move toward addressing the more pressing concern this offseason, rebuilding the starting pitching staff. Being able to lock up two productive parts in Davis and Oliver for little money will give Anthopoulos added flexibility when trying to strike deals with free agents Kyle Lohse and Zack Grienke, or looking to trade for a pitcher such as Dan Haren.
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Del Pearson has been a big Blue Jays fan since seeing the team's best prospects come through Auburn and Syracuse as a child. You can follow Del on Twitter @DelPearson2.