"He's a smart player who can play all the positions and knows how to play in a role-type position, so therefore was a target of ours," said Melvin. "As you've seen last year and even more so this year, depth is an important thing. You know that there are going to be some injuries, and to have a guy like that in your pocket is nice."
The 32-year-old outfielder profiles as a fourth or fifth outfielder. The A's already have four, with Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick and Craig Gentry, and likely won't carry another if they want to keep six infielders and three catchers in tow. But Fuld didn't come in expecting to be guaranteed a roster spot; only an opportunity.
Should injury open up an outfield spot this spring, Fuld could find himself in competition with another former Stanford Cardinal, Michael Taylor, who is out of options.
"You'll be rewarded if you perform," Fuld said. "That was one of the things they preached to me before signing. Anytime you hear that, that's uplifting as a player, especially someone coming in and not on the 40-man and getting on the older side."
Fuld appeared in 268 games with the Rays the past three years, batting .230 with five home runs, 21 doubles and 49 RBIs. He also legged out 10 triples.
But Fuld is primarily known for his defensive work, "even as a little kid," he said.
"He goes all-out, and we have a few of those guys," Melvin said. "The way we play, to bring in as many new guys who fit along that theme just adds to the success of how we play."
"He's one of the best defensive outfielders I've ever played with," said catcher Chris Gimenez, who also made the move from Tampa to Oakland this winter. "His nickname was 'Super Sam' in Tampa. He's not afraid to lay out, put his body in harm's way to make a play."
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.