As the trade deadline nears, the Oakland Athletics must decide what to do with slugger Khris Davis.
After coming over from Milwaukee, Khris Davis has been the pride and soul of the A’s. Despite being part of two disappointing campaigns, the slugging left fielder has emerged as one of the game’s most lethal power hitters.
Based on his play last season, MLB Network ranked Davis as the league’s fourth best left fielder.
In 150 games, the A’s star launched a career-high 42 bombs last season, the most by an Oakland player since 2000. He also managed to hit 24 doubles while posting a respectable, but very slugger-like slash line of .247/.307/.524 with 166 strikeouts.
At the All-Star break, Davis is on pace to another 40 homer year, while progressing as a hitter. The Fullerton product has become more selective at the plate, already drawing more walks than he did last season.
That being said, Davis is still somewhat of a one-dimensional player. He offers little value on the bases and consistently grades out as a poor defender.
Thanks to his noodle arm and generally poor instincts, the A’s left fielder has posted an unthinkable defensive WAR of -1.5 this season. Such a figure likely relegates his value on the trade market to that of a DH.
Khris Davis: Trade Bait or Cornerstone?
Sellers at the trade deadline, the A’s face a major question in what to do with Davis. With the organization fully embracing the youth movement, the anticipated answer would be to cash in while his stock’s still high.
The club could easily ship him to a contender in need of a right-handed power bat. In doing so, the A’s would be able to restock their farm system left somewhat barren after recent callups.
Unfortunately, for sluggers like Davis, the market is more-or-less saturated. As seen by Chris Carter‘s deal with the Yanks, one-dimensional sluggers are simply not being valued as they used to.
Carter, the NL’s home run king in 2016, signed a meager one-year $3.5 million deal with the Yanks in the offseason. The former-Brewer generated so little interest from clubs that he contemplated playing in a foreign league this season.
Though Davis boasts better numbers than Carter, he falls into the same mold. He can only help a team at the plate, through his power. Thus, Davis should only merit serious consideration at the deadline from an AL contender in need of a solid DH.
Also, Davis’s contract situation is pretty friendly for the A’s. Still on his rookie deal, the slugger has two years of arbitration remaining before he hits free agency.
Based on his play last year, Davis was awarded a salary of $5 million for the 2017 season. Assuming he continues to post similar numbers, Davis’s pay shouldn’t exceed $8 million in 2018 or 2019.
Should he stay, his services should come relatively cheap for a low-budget A’s team looking to contend next year.
Such scenarios point to the A’s keeping Davis.
His poor defense combined with a reasonable contract should extend his stay in Oakland. Also, with versatile young fielders like Chad Pinder and Matt Olson, Davis shouldn’t have to trot the outfield grass much for the A’s in 2018.
Should Davis remain part of the club’s big picture, A’s fans will continue to watch him belt monstrous home runs as the team’s primary DH.
**Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference