Khris Davis is going to make up a large portion of the Oakland A’s payroll, but they cannot afford to keep him on the roster if he does not produce.
The Oakland A’s are not in the habit of handing out large contracts. That made their decision to extend Khris Davis for two years at a total of $33.5 million all the more surprising. While there was no question that he was a fearsome power hitter, this was still a tremendous leap of faith for the A’s to take.
That contract has since been a disaster. Davis has not been the same player he was prior to crashing into the wall during one of his few forays into left field in 2019, his hitting plummeting as he did not feel right at the plate. He ended up producing an 83 OPS+, the lowest of his career to that point, with 23 homers and 11 doubles in his 533 plate appearances that year.
Yet, as bad as his 2019 campaign was, it was still better than his performance last season. Davis continued to struggle with the bat, producing a meager .200/.303/.329 batting line with two homers and five doubles in 99 plate appearances. The A’s even benched Davis down the stretch, hoping that the time off would allow him to clear his mind and get his bat back on track.
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In theory, the A’s will need Davis to be a key part of the lineup in 2021. His $16.75 million salary is easily the highest on the team, and with multiple holes in the lineup due to free agency, it will be important for Davis to return to his previous form. But it is fair to wonder if that will ever happen.
The A’s cannot afford to wait around to find out. They are looking to reach the postseason for the fourth consecutive year and hold on to the AL West title. Oakland does have a strong middle of the lineup if Matt Olson and Matt Chapman can return to form, but they need another power bat to step up.
Davis has been that in the past. However, those days seem to be over, having ended with that collision with the outfield wall. With Davis in the final year of his extension, the A’s do not have that same need to hang on to hope and give him countless opportunities. If he does not produce, Davis could be gone before the end of the year.
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The Oakland A’s will need every piece on the roster to produce in 2021. If Khris Davis cannot be a part of the solution, the A’s can simply move on.