Athletics

Evaluating A's arbitration in 2018 MLB offseason: Josh Phegley

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Evaluating A's arbitration in 2018 MLB offseason: Josh Phegley

(Over the next week, we will be examining each of the A's arbitration-eligible players to determine whether they will return in 2019.)

Josh Phegley served as the A's backup catcher in 2018, slashing .204/.255/.344 with two home runs and 15 RBI in 93 at-bats. Oakland performed extremely well with him in the lineup, going 20-7 in games he started.

Phegley, 30, is a career .223 hitter in six big-league seasons. His best year came in 2015 when he notched a career-high nine homers and 34 RBI in 73 games. 

Phegley earned $905K last season and is projected to get $1.2 million in arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

Why he might be a bargain

Phegley has proven to be a reliable backup catcher. He is solid defensively and can handle himself at the plate as well. He is also well-liked by his teammates, and knows how to manage Oakland's pitching staff.

Even if the A's re-sign starting catcher Jonathan Lucroy, Phegley could provide a nice insurance policy.

Why he might be too pricey

The projected number of $1.2 million could be a bit high for a backup catcher, especially with Beau Taylor in the mix for less money, and prospect Sean Murphy tearing it up in the minor leagues. If the A's do re-sign Lucroy, Phegley could become expendable.

Verdict

Phegley has done everything asked of him over the past four seasons in Oakland, but $1.2 million seems a bit high for a backup catcher, especially when Taylor would cost less than half that.

Murphy, who just turned 24, slashed.288/.358/.498 in 68 games with Double-A Midland last season and figures to be the A's catcher of the future. With both Taylor and Murphy in the mix, Oakland can probably afford to let Phegley go at that price tag.     

Khris Davis is hoping to stay with the A's for 'at least three more years'

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Khris Davis is hoping to stay with the A's for 'at least three more years'

Khris Davis is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, but if he has his way, he'll remain in Oakland for years to come.

"I want to stay here at least three more years," Davis told the Associated Press and other reporters Sunday in Arizona. "I’d like to be here. I hope something gets done."

Davis, 31, agreed to a $16.5 million salary for this year to arbitration. He has previously expressed his desire to sign a long-term deal with the A's, and Oakland general manager David Forst has confirmed that discussions are ongoing.

"We've had more multi-year conversations with Khris," Forst said last month. "He knows that it's continuing."

Last season, Davis led all of baseball with 48 home runs and ranked second with 123 RBI. His 133 homers over the last three years also led the MLB. But Davis has taken notice of the slow free agent markets the last two offseasons, with stars like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado still unsigned into spring training.

"It’s not a good thing being a free agent right now," Davis told reporters. "For my security, it’s going to impact a lot. That’s the way the business is. I’m already 31 so I don’t know if I’m too old."

Davis also knows the way the A's tend to operate, and if they fall out of contention this season, there's a chance he could get traded. That's just more motivation for him to lead the team back to the playoffs.

[RELATED: Revisiting A's signing of Céspedes seven years ago]

“I don’t think they’ll trade me as long as we’re doing good," he told reporters. "So we better do good so I don’t get traded.”

Of course, Davis' value goes far beyond the numbers. His presence in the cleanup position impacts the entire lineup. When he missed nine games last May due to injury, the A's went 3-6, scoring a total of 15 runs. That's not a coincidence.

Davis has also become a tremendous leader in the clubhouse, not to mention a fan favorite, and despite all of his accolades, he has never had an ego. Talk about a perfect fit for Oakland. The A's would be wise to get a multi-year deal done as soon as possible.

Rickey Henderson wanted to play for Raiders, but A's wouldn't let him

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Rickey Henderson wanted to play for Raiders, but A's wouldn't let him

This isn't the A's first go-around with a two-sport star.

Long before Kyler Murray spurned Oakland in favor of pursuing his NFL dreams, Rickey Henderson had ideas of starring on both the baseball diamond and football field.

According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Henderson had the approval of Raiders owner Al Davis to play for the Oakland football team, but the A's shut it down.

"When Bo Jackson first came into the league, I went to Al Davis to go play football and he was going to let me be a two-way player,” Henderson said. “The Oakland A’s said, ‘Oh, no way. You’re not going out there. That’s not going to happen.’

"That was my chance and I missed it," Henderson continued. "I always used to tell Bo (Jackson) and Deion Sanders, ‘I could have done that, played both sports, but the A’s said they weren’t going to let me.’ That was my dream."

Henderson, who is serving as a visiting instructor for the A's at spring training, was looking forward to spending some time with Murray, but he doesn't blame the reigning Heisman Trophy winner for pursuing a career as a professional quarterback.

"It’s always a tough choice,” Henderson said of the two-sport predicament. “It’s really what you love, and his love really was football. People try to compare his decision and my decision, but mine was different. I came out of high school and I had time to grow in baseball and he came out of college, he didn’t have as much time with baseball."

Henderson won't be working with Murray this spring, but he's not ruling it out altogether. He sees Murray's decision to pursue an NFL career now as coming with some theoretical insurance, and remember, the A's retain his rights.

[RELATED: As Murray chooses NFL, A's 'don't regret the pick at all']

"So he can see if it works out with his love, and if not, he can fall back on baseball."

Surely, Murray is hoping things work out for him in the NFL. But if not, perhaps baseball is where he's supposed to be.

Despite his dreams, that certainly proved to be the case for the Man of Steal.