Khris Davis

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.

Oakland's Khris Davis pacing MLB strikeout record

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USATSI

Oakland's Khris Davis pacing MLB strikeout record

NEW YORK — Major League Baseball is set to smash through a previously untouched barrier Sunday: Some batter likely will walk back to his dugout after becoming the 40,000 strikeout of the season.

There were 30,801 strikeouts in 2005. At the current rate, this year’s total will be about 40,060.

“It kills me. I can’t watch the game. It’s not baseball,” Hall of Fame pitcher Goose Gossage said Thursday. “The only thing that’s the same in the game is the bases are 90 feet and the mound is 60 feet, 6 inches. That’s it.”

The strikeout record has been broken for 10 consecutive seasons, and this year’s total will be well above the 38,982 who whiffed in 2016. There were 39,334 through Thursday, with three full days remaining.

More batters are swinging for the fences, part of the computer revolution that transformed nearly every aspect of the game, from defensive shifts to shorter outings by starting pitchers, to more relief pitchers on each team’s roster. The season home run record of 5,694, which had stood since 2000 at the height of the Steroids Era, was shattered with nearly two weeks left. Cleveland’s Roberto Perez hit No. 6,000 on Thursday as the total rose to 6,022.

“If you’re striking out, you’re not hitting into a lot of double plays. It was like 10 years ago when I think the analytical people started saying that strikeouts aren’t really that bad,” Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost said. “They would much rather have one out than the chance for two.”

Boston’s Chris Sale has 308 strikeouts, the most by a big league pitcher since Arizona’s Randy Johnson had 334 in 2002 and Diamondbacks teammate Curt Schilling fanned 316. Indians pitchers have reached double digits in strikeouts 90 times, the most since at least 1913.

In earlier eras, strikeouts were a smear on a slugger’s baseball card. Babe Ruth never struck out more than 93 times in a season. Joe DiMaggio fanned 369 times in his career, to go along with 361 home runs.

The Yankees’ Aaron Judge may have set a big league rookie record for home runs with 51 through Thursday, but he’s also fanned 205 times. Oakland’s Khris Davis was at 194 and Texas’ Joey Gallo at 193.

[RELATED: Khris Davis on The A's Insider Podcast]

“They have determined the importance of hitting the ball in the air, the importance of hitting home runs, and I think players have bought into it,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I think you can be extremely productive striking out 150 times a year. If you can drive 100 and you can score 100, there’s a lot of things that you can do. So I think the game has shifted gears a little bit.”

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and his staff are concerned about the decrease in action, especially in an era that had professional sports competing with screen time for the attention of youth.

Teams averaged 3 strikeouts per game when the Yankees’ Murderer’s Row ruled baseball in 1927. The average didn’t top 4 until 1952, 5 until 1959 and 6 until 1994. It passed 7 in 2010 and 8 last year.

“Everybody digs the long ball. If you struck out that many times back in the day, your (butt) would be back in the minor leagues,” said Gossage, who advocates small ball as a way of defeating both power pitchers and infield shifts. “I think these computers got these kids — they’re all like robots. You’re telling me that a guy, a professional hitter, can’t hit a ball the whole left or right side of an infield that’s gone? How about laying down five or six or 10 bunts, like Boog Powell would have done?”

 

Mariners remain a riddle to A's despite Khris Davis' 42nd homer

Mariners remain a riddle to A's despite Khris Davis' 42nd homer

OAKLAND — Yonder Alonso found his power-hitting comfort zone at the Coliseum earlier this season, and it resulted in his first All-Star Game selection.

Now he does his damage in a Mariners uniform, and the A’s could do without the power he’s shown the past two nights.

Alonso, traded from Oakland to Seattle in August, went deep for the second night in a row Tuesday, and another former Athletic, Danny Valencia, added the knockout blow with a three-run shot to lift the Mariners to a 6-3 victory.

It was a trip down memory lane that A’s manager Bob Melvin could have done without. This was a game his team was in position to win, thanks to solid starting pitching from Daniel Mengden, some pretty defensive work behind the pitcher and Khris Davis’ 42nd home run, which gave the A’s a short-lived 3-2 lead.

“It’s a frustrating loss for us,” Melvin said. “(Seattle starter James) Paxton is doing his thing, and we finally get him out of the game and take the lead with a two-run homer and we can’t hold it. That’s the frustrating part.”

While the A’s recently have dominated at home this season against Texas, which just left the Coliseum on Sunday, the Mariners are one division opponent they simply can’t solve. They’ve dropped an Oakland-record eight in a row to Seattle.

They can thank Alonso and Valencia for Tuesday’s heartache. Alonso hardly has torn the cover off the ball with the Mariners — he has just five homers in 39 games since the A’s traded him for outfielder Boog Powell. But he’s made a good enough impression that there’s thought that the Mariners might try to re-sign the free agent-to-be.

His trade to the Mariners reunited him with his longtime friend Valencia, who the A’s shipped to Seattle last offseason for right-hander Paul Blackburn. Both took joy in homering in the same game at the Coliseum, though neither was looking to rub it in against their former club.

“I have a lot of love playing here. It’s a good place to play,” said Valencia, who made headlines last year when he punched then-A’s teammate Billy Butler in a clubhouse altercation.

The A’s and Mariners have combined for nine homers in the first two games of this three-game set that ends Wednesday afternoon. Marcus Semien hit his first career leadoff homer in the first to accompany Davis’ blast, helping the A’s establish a new Oakland single-season record for homers at the Coliseum (128).

But, as has been their M.O. all season, if the A’s aren’t clearing the fences, they aren’t doing enough offensively. They had nine hits total but couldn’t push any more runs across.

“Our team’s success this year has revolved around the home run,” Melvin said. “We need to find other ways to do it.”

The A’s began this series hoping to catch fourth-place Seattle and escape the AL West cellar. But in taking the first two, the Mariners have leapfrogged Texas into third place for the time being, and the A’s trail Texas by four games for fourth place with five left to play, including four against the Rangers in Arlington beginning Thursday.