The Blue Jays avoided salary arbitration with outfielder Rajai Davis on Tuesday, signing him to a two-year, $5.75 million contract.
However, the team continues to explore other leadoff options, including free agents Scott Podsednik and Johnny Damon, major league sources say.
The Jays were last in the American League with 58 stolen bases last season and next-to-last with a .313 on-base percentage out of the leadoff spot.
Davis, 30, stole 50 bases in 61 tries last season for the A’s, but his on-base percentage was only .320. The Jays intend to play him, sources say. But their roster remains in flux.
Jose Bautista could return to third if the Jays use Davis, Vernon Wells and Travis Snider in their outfield. Adam Lind could be the DH if he is unable to handle first.
Podsednik and Damon, meanwhile, are more proven than Davis, who might be more productive if he plays less regularly and hits lower in the order.
Both Podsednik and Damon also hit from the left side; Snider and Lind currently are the only left-handed hitters on the Jays roster.
Podsednik, who turns 35 on March 18, has a .347 OBP and 65 stolen bases in 93 attempts over the past two seasons.
Damon, 37, had a .355 OBP with the Tigers last season, matching his career mark. But he no longer is much of a base-stealing threat, and his defense in left is below average.
The Angels, also looking for a leadoff type, prefer Podsednik to Damon, according to one source. The Yankees are more likely to sign Andruw Jones than Damon. The Rays like Damon but probably would not pay him anything close to the $8 million he earned in 2010.
— Ken Rosenthal