It’s time for the Oakland Athletics to cut ties with first baseman Ike Davis. In fact, it’s past time. That might sound harsh, but it’s a matter of quantity – not necessarily quality. Davis will be a fine first baseman on someone else’s team. While he’s dealt with injury issues in Oakland, Davis is a talented player. However, on the Athletics, he’s in the way of rookie Mark Canha and catcher Stephen Vogt.
There are only so many games in a season. It’s just a matter of logic that someone – be it Canha, Vogt or Davis – isn’t going to be able to get enough at-bats at first base to warrant a roster spot. With the Athletics continuing loyalty to the injury-prone Coco Crisp in left field, the team needs to hang on to Canha, who will fill the left field void whenever Crisp is hurt or needs a day off. It also wouldn’t make sense to deal him, given how young and under team control he is.
Vogt seems like an interesting trade candidate, but the A’s don’t really have a legitimate backup catcher option behind Josh Phegley, so trading Vogt would create a hole on the team.
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Acquiring Billy Butler was odd move for that Athletics, given that having a full-time designated hitter greatly limits the flexibility of the roster, and the A’s have always been very pro-flexibility. There isn’t a designated hitter spot to use to give players the day off from the field while still keeping their bat in the lineup. This is especially harmful in the case of Vogt, because catching is the hardest job to do on an everyday basis and he will need time off from behind the plate, but the A’s can’t afford to have him completely out of the lineup.
Phegley is a capable hitter himself, so having him catch while Vogt plays first base is a very productive way to give the team’s everyday catcher a break. However, it really eliminates the need for Davis. It would make more sense for the A’s to trade him to a team in need of a first baseman. One fit might be Seattle, where he could platoon with right-hander Jesus Montero (if the Mariners don’t go out and sign a big name instead).
The A’s likely wouldn’t be able to acquire much for Davis – he batted just .229/.301/.350 last season and spent time on the disabled list, which will bring his value down. They’d probably be looking at a decent middle reliever or a starting pitcher of the Felix Dubront variety. However, that’s still a lot better than non-tendering his contract and receiving nothing, or designating him for assignment sometime next season when a roster crunch forces the A’s to admit that Davis is far from indispensable.
Davis isn’t necessarily a bad first base option. On many teams, he’d be a key part of the lineup. The A’s just have better first base choices in Canha and Vogt, and they face a lineup crunch because the designated hitter spot is tied up. Especially given prospect Matt Olson’s proximity to the big leagues, it’s time to part ways with Davis, and the Athletics should try to get what they can for him this winter.