The A’s had not lost an arbitration hearing since now-vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane became the A’s general manager prior to the 1998 regular season.
In fact, the Oakland Athletics had only been to three hearings total under Beane’s leadership.
That was before Wednesday’s arbitration hearing with left fielder Khris Davis. This was Davis’ first year of arbitration eligibility, after spending three seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers and one with the Athletics.
They’ve otherwise always managed to negotiate contracts with their arbitration eligible players without incident.
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Davis was arguably the main star of the team in 2016.
He finished the season tied for third in the league, having smashed 42 long balls during the course of the season. That is a pretty tremendous accomplishment, to say the least.
He played in 150 games for the A’s in 2016, the most he’d played in a single season in his career. He hit .247 which is close to average.
While it is true that Davis definitely needed to step up his game when it came to his on-base percentage (.307), the fact remains that Davis drove in 102 runs on the year.
Where would the A’s have been without those 102 RBI? Davis also posted a 2.8 WAR on the year.
He even had a three-homer game that he capped off with a walk-off grand slam. Performances like that should not be ignored.
The Athletics offered Davis $4.65 million for 2016 and Davis countered that offer with $5 million for the year. He made just $524,500 in 2015.
Why the A’s took it all the way to a hearing is a bit of a conundrum. Sure, Davis’ OBP was low, but when you look at his overall numbers, it’s pretty obvious that he’s worth the $5 million, which is exactly how the arbitrators, Mark Irvings, Gil Vernon and Mark Burstein, felt.
The arbitrators awarded Davis his $5 million for the 2017 season and rightfully so. Davis proved he deserved it.
Whether or not he is able to repeat his 2016 performance remains to be seen but he deserved to be rewarded for what he had accomplished.
Still, the fact that the hearing even took place still seems odd.
The difference between the A’s offer and Davis’ counteroffer was relatively small, just a mere $350,000. That isn’t much in baseball terms.
So it remains a mystery as to why the A’s took this negotiation all the way to a hearing, something they obviously don’t usually allow to happen.
However, the right party, Khris Davis, prevailed over the A’s in this arbitration hearing, making it the only one that has been lost since Billy Beane took over the reigns of the organization.
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