Blue Jays add speed in trade for A's Davis

Blue Jays add speed in trade for A's Davis

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays injected some much needed speed into their roster Wednesday by acquiring outfielder Rajai Davis from the Oakland Athletics for a pair of Minor League relievers.

Heading to Oakland are right-handers Trystan Magnuson and Daniel Farquhar. Both relief pitchers spent last season with Double-A New Hampshire.

Davis has the ability to play all three outfield positions, but it's his speed on the basepaths that piqued Toronto's interest the most. The 30-year-old stole 50 bases with the Athletics last season while being caught just 11 times.

That's an element of the game Toronto has been sorely lacking in recent seasons. In 2010, the Blue Jays managed to steal just 58 bases, ranking last in the American League in that category.

"It's well documented [that in] team speed, stolen bases, we're very low," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "Rajai was second in the American League in stolen bases, [with] a very good caught-stealing percentage as well.

"It was a skill set that we really don't have a lot of right now in this organization, and it allows us to balance the team a little bit more."

How exactly Davis, who hit .284 with five home runs and 52 RBIs last season, fits into the Blue Jays' plans for 2011 remains to be seen. Toronto could opt to give him the starting job in right field, a move that would require Jose Bautista to assume the full-time role at third base. Last season, Bautista played 48 games at third while appearing in 113 games in right field.

Another possibility is that Davis could assume the role of reserve outfielder Fred Lewis and primarily come off the bench.

Anthopoulos told reporters Wednesday that the plans for next season are still very much a work in progress.

"We haven't made any determinations yet," Anthopoulos said. "I don't know yet what his role is going to be for next year, because I don't want to make a determination today and then have something come up in a week, or two weeks, or a month from now that changes that direction.

"So until we're done with the offseason, then we'll have more of a sense of how everything is going to line up for us."

For his part, Davis is excited about the opportunity to crack the Blue Jays' starting lineup, something he did 133 times last season in Oakland.

"That is definitely something to look forward to," Davis told MLB.com. "I look forward to playing, to winning, and I think just being able to play every day is something that excites me."

If Davis secures a spot in the Blue Jays' Opening Day lineup, it likely would come at the top of the order. It's a spot that the native of Norwich, Conn., is familiar with, having started there 56 times with the Athletics.

"I think he's certainly capable of that, because he brings that element of speed," Anthopoulos said. "There's no question you'd like to see an improvement in on-base percentage [career .330]. It's not the classic leadoff in terms of the high on-base percentage, but again, he does bring a lot to the speed component that we really don't have."

Magnuson, a native of Vancouver, British Columbia, went 3-0 with a 2.58 ERA in 46 appearances for Double-A New Hampshire. The 23-year-old was selected 56th overall by the Blue Jays in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft and was named to the 2010 Futures Game.

He was expected to contend for a spot in the Toronto bullpen next season, but will now try to earn a spot on a big league roster with Oakland.

Farquhar, a native of Florida, went 4-3 with a 3.52 ERA and 17 saves with New Hampshire. The 23-year-old originally was chosen by Toronto in the 10th round of the 2008 Draft.

Farquhar is currently playing for the Peoria Javelinas of the Arizona Fall League. He was arriving at the ballpark in preparation for Saturday's championship game when he got the news.

"It was news to me today," Farquhar said. "My mom called me at like midnight [Tuesday] night. She was freaking out, saying, 'Oh, did you get traded to the Marlins?' There apparently were rumors I was getting traded yesterday. That didn't go through. I was joking with my roommate today, 'Hey, I'm going to get traded today.'

"I'm definitely going to miss all my buddies with the Blue Jays, but it's exciting. It's a change in scenery."

In an unrelated move, the Blue Jays also announced Wednesday that starting pitcher Shawn Hill had cleared unconditional waivers and is now a free agent. The native of Mississauga, Ontario, started four games for Toronto last season, going 1-2 with a 4.74 ERA.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his MLBlog, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.