Matt Davidson
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Report: Rays could sign Matt Davidson as a two-way player

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The Rays appear interested in pursuing free agent infielder Matt Davidson, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Saturday. Rosenthal adds that the club envisions Davidson as a “potential two-way addition,” though it’s not yet clear how often they’d rely on his pitching ability as they move through the 2019 season.

Davidson, 27, stepped into a variety of roles with the White Sox in 2018. He logged 64 games at DH, 45 at first base, and 14 at third, and batted .228/.319/.419 with 20 home runs, a .738 OPS, and a career-high 0.8 fWAR across 496 plate appearances. While his last four seasons in the majors have made him a proven asset at the infield corners, however, there’s been little indication that he’s capable of transitioning to a semi-permanent role in the bullpen.

A brief summary of Davidson’s pitching career to date: The righty had not pitched since high school when he made his pro ball pitching debut last June. He completed three relief appearances over the course of the 2018 season, during which he issued one hit, one walk, and two strikeouts over three innings. Although he has yet to rack up any additional time on the mound in the majors or minors, the infielder-turned-reliever impressed with a fastball that topped out at 92 m.p.h. and a couple of decent breaking balls to boot.

For as much credit as the Rays are getting for their “ever-creative” roster configurations, it wouldn’t be the first time Davidson considered making the switch.

“To be honest, I would love to maybe explore that idea,” he told reporters after delivering a scoreless ninth inning during his second outing in late July. “Pitching was a dream. As a young kid, everybody wants to hit that walk-off homer, right? I was the guy striking that guy out. […] So, it’s something I would be interested in. I don’t know if the game would necessarily allow that, or something like that. It’s something that is really close to my heart.”

Whether he’s still willing to take on a two-way role remains to be seen, though Rosenthal explains that the Rays are well-positioned to facilitate such a change after helping no. 2 prospect Brendan McKay flourish as a first baseman/left-hander in 2017 and 2018.

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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