With salary set to spike, could Khris Davis be in line for long-term extension?

With salary set to spike, could Khris Davis be in line for long-term extension?

A second consecutive 40-plus homer season has Khris Davis lined up for quite a hefty pay raise.

The web site mlbtraderumors.com on Monday unveiled its annual salary projections for players who are eligible for arbitration. It’s no surprise that Davis projects as the costliest of the eight A’s players due for arbitration this winter. Mlbtraderumors.com predicts Davis to pull down a whopping $11 million salary for 2018, which would more than double his 2017 figure of $5 million.

The A’s can absorb that number with no problem. They currently have just two players — outfielder Matt Joyce and reliever Santiago Casilla — with guaranteed contracts on the books for 2018, at a total cost of $12 million. Go ahead and throw in $6 million more for second baseman Jed Lowrie, as the A’s have been pretty clear they plan to exercise his $6 million club option.

With just $18 million essentially tied up right now, that gives Oakland plenty of financial flexibility to fit Davis in, even after factoring in the seven other arbitration-eligible players and salaries for pre-arbitration players.

“If it is (pricey), it is,” A’s general manager David Forst said last week of Davis’ potential salary. “I don’t think you could overstate the impact he has on the rest of the lineup.”

Forst and A’s vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane have made it clear they’re interested in eventually locking up the young cornerstone players who emerged over the past year or so (think Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, etc. …).

Some might wonder if a player such as Davis, 29, could be in line for a multi-year extension himself. With back-to-back years of 42 and 43 homers with 100-plus RBI, he’s certainly filled a glaring void for right-handed power that was left after the trades of Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Donaldson. And it’s reasonable to expect Davis could continue to do so for a few more seasons, given his age.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported during the summer that the A’s have, at one time or another, held exploratory talks with Davis and shortstop Marcus Semien about multi-year deals. In a late-September sit-down for the A’s Insider Podcast, Davis said he wasn’t aware of any current extension discussions between his camp and the team. Also keep in mind that his big 2017 season only drives the price up for any long-term deal.

But Beane and Forst made it clear during their season-ending press conference that they greatly value Davis’ impact on their lineup. Barring any roster moves that open up a full-time spot for him at designated hitter, they seem willing to live with the defensive shortcomings in left field that come with Davis’ subpar throwing arm. The upshot: Don’t anticipate reading Davis’ name in too many trade rumors this winter.

The A’s other arbitration-eligible players, with mlbtraderumors.com’s salary projections in parentheses, are Semien ($3.2 million), starter Kendall Graveman ($2.6 million), relievers Blake Treinen ($2.3 million), Chris Hatcher ($2.2 million) and Liam Hendriks ($1.9 million), catcher Josh Phegley ($1.1 million) and outfielder Jake Smolinski ($700,000).

Of that group, Semien, 27, could still merit consideration for an extension. When healthy, he provides an impact bat that could play well even if he were eventually bumped off of shortstop by one of Oakland’s up-and-coming prospects.

Graveman, 26, is a leader of the rotation, but his recent shoulder issues might give the A’s pause in locking him up.

Strong-armed catcher Murphy highlights A's prospects in Arizona Fall League

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AP

Strong-armed catcher Murphy highlights A's prospects in Arizona Fall League

With the Arizona Fall League set to begin Tuesday, here’s a glance at the seven minor leaguers the A’s are sending to the annual prospect showcase.

Oakland will have four pitchers and three position players on the roster of the Mesa Solar Sox, joining prospects from the Astros, Cubs, Nationals and Tigers organizations for five weeks of games in the desert:

C Sean Murphy: Rated the A’s No. 4 prospect by Baseball America, the right-handed hitting Murphy was a third-round pick out of Wright State in 2016. He finished this past season with Double-A Midland despite it being his first full professional campaign. He has an excellent throwing arm with solid footwork behind the plate. Murphy finished at .250 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and a .723 OPS in 98 games split between Single-A Stockton and Midland. Participating in his first big league camp this past spring, Murphy impressed one former catcher in particular.

“The kid can throw,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said back then. “It's special. We heard that coming in, but to actually see him throw to bases, it's one of those where you tell the infielder, 'If the ball looks low, give it a chance, because it's carrying.’ It’s an electric arm for sure.”

Murphy turns 23 on Tuesday.

RHP Logan Shore: Lefty A.J. Puk got most of the buzz coming out of the A’s 2016 draft. But it’s Shore, Puk’s teammate at the University of Florida, who many felt was a more polished pitching product. Shore, 22, missed a good chunk of this season with a lat strain suffered in May. He finished 2-5 with a 4.09 ERA in 72 2/3 innings at Stockton. Shore made a nice impression in the spring with a spot start against the Angels that included a strikeout of Mike Trout. A’s special assistant Grady Fuson praised the right-hander during an A’s Insider Podcast interview in September.

“Great sinker, probably as good a changeup as we’ve got in the system. He basically almost makes the baseball stop.”

For much more on A’s prospects, listen to that entire podcast.

3B Sheldon Neuse: Acquired from Washington in the Sean Doolittle/Ryan Madson trade, the 22-year-old Neuse made a big impression with the A’s, hitting .380 with seven homers and 28 RBI in 40 games split between Single-A and Double-A. He also plays shortstop, but after his promotion to Midland, Neuse settled at third base with Jorge Mateo handling short for the Rockhounds.

“He’s got more of a third baseman/catcher’s type build, but the one thing that’s stood out since the day we got him is this guy looks like he might be as pure a hitter as we’ve got,” Fuson said. “He’s got a very good approach to the right-center part of the diamond. He’s strong. He’s physical.”

RHP Norge Ruiz: The A’s signing of this free agent from Cuba last December didn’t create a huge buzz because of the timing of it. But they gave Ruiz, now 23, a $2 million bonus, which speaks to the upside they believe he has. Ruiz posted a 2.55 ERA over three years in Serie Nacional, Cuba’s top professional league. He began this season pitching for the A’s Dominican Summer League team before moving to the Arizona Rookie League and eventually joining Stockton’s rotation, where he went 3-1 with a 5.71 ERA in eight starts.

OF Tyler Ramirez: A seventh-round draft pick out of North Carolina in 2016, Ramirez — who hits and throws left-handed — enjoyed a fine season split between Stockton and Midland. He hit .304 with 11 homers, 63 RBI and a .398 on-base percentage. Ramirez, 22, saw time in all three outfield spots this season but primarily played left field.

RHP Nolan Blackwood: A 6-foot-5 reliever with a submarine delivery, the 22-year-old Blackwood posted 19 saves and a 3.00 ERA for Stockton. That included an impressive 1.05 WHIP and .205 opponents’ batting average over 57 innings.

RHP Miguel Romero: Signed in February out of Cuba, Romero, 23, spent four seasons in Serie Nacional, mainly pitching out of the bullpen. It appears that’s the role the A’s envision for him as well. Romero pitched at four different levels this past season, including eight appearances (one start) and a 6.87 ERA for Stockton.

Chapman earns spot on Baseball America's All-Rookie team

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USATSI

Chapman earns spot on Baseball America's All-Rookie team

A’s third baseman Matt Chapman was part of select company Tuesday, honored by Baseball America on its 2017 All-Rookie Team.

The team combines rookies from both leagues, and just one player is chosen at each position around the diamond, along with five starting pitchers and one reliever. Chapman is part of a star-studded 2017 class that includes Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge, a strong American League MVP candidate, and Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger, the strong favorite for NL Rookie of the Year.

Chapman took over third base duties for Oakland immediately upon his call-up June 15 and hit .234 with 14 home runs and 40 RBI in 86 games while playing standout defense. From the All-Star break on, he led major league rookies in doubles (21) and extra-base hits (37).

Chapman began producing highlight-reel defensive plays almost immediately, showing off a rocket arm, excellent hands and terrific range that helped him navigate the Coliseum’s vast foul territory. The 34 double plays he turned are the most by a third baseman in major league history with fewer than 100 games, and that total was fifth-most in the AL despite Chapman playing in just over a half-season of games.

His defense rated very high across several sabermetric categories. Among AL third basemen with at least 700 innings played, Chapman led the league in Defensive Runs Saved with 19. Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria was a distant second with 11.

Whether Chapman’s reputation spread quickly enough to warrant Gold Glove consideration remains to be seen. Coaches and managers vote for the award during the season, with a sabermetric statistical component also factored in. Winners are announced in November.

The A’s knew they could expect excellent defense from Chapman, but general manager David Forst was pleasantly surprised by the rookie’s bat.

“I think we knew when we brought him up, though maybe it was a little sooner than we planned, that his glove would sort of keep him afloat,” Forst said. “I think the bigger surprise was how quickly his bat kind of leveled off. He’s going to swing and miss, but the extra base hits, the homers, the fact he performed the way he did offensively was really nice to see.”