Athletics

Gray, others could generate interest as A's prep for winter meetings

Gray, others could generate interest as A's prep for winter meetings

The A’s certainly have a need to fill as they prepare for the annual winter meetings that begin Monday.

However, their agenda over the four-day event in Washington, D.C. could go any number of directions, and that lends an element of the unknown.

Two winters ago, they clearly had ambitions to trade Jeff Samardzija and Brandon Moss as part of a grander roster overhaul. Both players indeed got dealt at the winter meetings. Last year, it was no secret they were looking to unload infielder Brett Lawrie, and he was shipped to the White Sox the night before the meetings wrapped.

This winter, the A’s most pressing need is an everyday center fielder. They’ve said they’ll explore free agency and trades to fill that void. But with the prevailing logic that the A’s might be a couple years from seriously contending again in the American League West, how seriously could they consider dealing front-line pieces such as starter Sonny Gray or catcher Stephen Vogt? They’re showing at least a willingness to listen on both players along with other veterans.

All general manager David Forst guarantees is that the A’s are keeping every option open.

“I don’t really know what conversations are going to come up,” Forst said earlier this week. “We’ve made major additions, we’ve made big trades in the past. Those things are always a possibility. We’re going to be opportunistic depending on how things go the next month or so.”

The A’s have also stayed quiet during past winter meetings, laying the groundwork for moves behind closed doors, only to strike shortly after the event wraps.

At the heart of any moves Oakland considers must be this question: How aggressive do they want to be making upgrades for 2017, given they’ve got a young core of up-and-coming talent in place that would suggest patience is the best route?

The A’s have a solid base of young starting pitching — some of it has appeared in the majors already, some of it’s getting close and some is at least a couple years away. There are also some promising position-player prospects that are knocking on the door of being potential contributors.

Given the gradual cut-off of revenue-sharing money heading the A’s way as part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, it’s hard to see them throwing big dollars at free agents until they’ve got a plan for a new ballpark. Trading away top prospects to bring in a big-name player also seems to run counter to their big-picture outlook.

But to hear Forst tell it, the A’s will keep an open mind to all possibilities.

“We’re listening more than anything,” Forst said. “We have a strong foundation here, and it’s centered around our starting pitching. There’s a good young group of starters we’re gonna build on. We have a good base in the bullpen that was one of our strengths last year, and ultimately the position players are hopefully going to grow with that group. …

“Guys like (prospects Franklin) Barreto and (Matt) Chapman are coming at some point. There’s kind of a formula for this team to grow together. I think we’re looking to be patient with that process but also listen to what opportunities that may be out there. There’s always a lot of trade conversations leading up to and at the winter meetings. I don’t expect that will be any different this year.”
 

A's manager Bob Melvin says slugger Khris Davis deserves MVP talk

A's manager Bob Melvin says slugger Khris Davis deserves MVP talk

OAKLAND — A small crowd watched the Oakland A's shut out the Texas Rangers Tuesday night, but the chant came through loud and clear.

“MVP! MVP! MVP!”

Khris Davis is proving every day that he belongs in that discussion. The A's slugger crushed his 38th home run of the season Tuesday, a two-run opposite field shot, to tie Boston's J.D. Martinez for the MLB lead. Davis drove in three runs on the night, giving him 102 RBI for the season, just four behind Martinez for the league lead.

“Pretty special,” Davis said of the “MVP” chant. “[I'm] just appreciative.”

Davis continued to dominate the Rangers, and upped his season batting average against them to .311. But it's not just Texas he's owned lately, as the 30-year-old has mashed against almost everyone else, too. 

Since July 1, Davis is slashing .317/.370/.720 with 18 home runs and 47 RBI. Only Matt Carpenter has more homers (19), and nobody has more RBI. 

“Why wouldn't you [chant]?” Bob Melvin asked reporters postgame. “I've been hearing some talk on some of these national broadcasts about MVP, and his name is not even brought up. I mean, how can you not? It's ridiculous that he's not part of that conversation.”

On Tuesday, Davis became just the fifth Oakland A's player to record 100 or more RBI in three straight seasons, and the first since Miguel Tejada and Erich Chavez. He's also within two home runs of his third consecutive 40-homer season.

“He's a joke,” said Brett Anderson, who tossed seven shutout innings Tuesday night to earn the win. “He hits balls that left-handed pull hitters don't hit to right field. The ball comes off his bat different than pretty much everybody I've ever seen. He should definitely be in the [MVP] equation.”

Shortstop Marcus Semien added: “It's impressive, considering this ballpark has been one of the least offensive parks in the league. It doesn't matter with him. He can hit the ball out to all fields, even on cold nights like this.”

Since 2016, Davis leads all of baseball with 123 home runs. Yet he is constantly overlooked when it comes to awards and national recognition. That doesn't bother Davis, who continues to quietly go about his business, allowing his bat do the talking.

“I'm just trying to do my job,” he said. “I've just got to continue working hard and help this team win ballgames. That's probably my main focus, just getting to the playoffs.”

For the second consecutive season, Davis is on pace to improve upon his output from the prior year. He needs six more homers to surpass his total from last season (43), and only nine more RBI. The A's have 36 games left in the campaign.

“Every year he's gotten better with us,” Melvin added. “Just as impressive is the deep count at-bat with the RBI single to center field. That club really wasn't in his bag for awhile, and now he has that too, where he's knocking in big runs without the homer, so he just continues to get better.”

Khris Davis powers A's to second straight shutout against Rangers

Khris Davis powers A's to second straight shutout against Rangers

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND — Following his seventh inning home run, Khris Davis was showered with chants of “MVP” by the Coliseum crowd. They have a pretty good case.

The A's slugger belted his 38th home run of the season, tied for the most in MLB, as Oakland shut out the Texas Rangers for the second straight night, 6-0. Davis went 2-for-4, driving in three runs to go over the 100 RBI mark for the third straight season. His 102 RBI this year are second most in MLB.

Davis continued to dominate against Rangers pitching. He has now hit 27 home runs in 52 career games against Texas, including nine this season.

With the win, the A's improved to 76-50, and kept pace with the Houston Astros for first place in the AL West. Houston beat the Mariners in Seattle, 3-2. 

Here's what else you need to know...

--- Brett Anderson continued a brilliant August, pitching seven shutout innings, allowing just one hit, and striking out six. In four starts this month, the A's left-hander has allowed just two earned runs in 26 2/3 innings, for an ERA of 0.68. Anderson also extended his scoreless innings streak to 16. For the season, he is 3-3 with a 3.47 ERA.

--- Jed Lowrie had a productive night. He reached base all four times, singling twice and walking twice. He also notched his 77th RBI of the season in the first inning, driving in Nick Martini on a base hit to center. Lowrie has recorded multiple hits in five of his last nine games, raising his batting average to .272.

--- Nick Martini just keeps getting on base. The rookie outfielder went 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored, and now has a .409 on-base percentage for the season. Martini has turned into a terrific leadoff option when the A's face right-handed pitching.

--- Fellow rookie outfielder Ramon Laureano also stayed hot, going 2-for-4 with a pair of singles, upping his batting average to .314. He also stole his second base of the season. Laureano has made an instant impact with his bat, glove, and legs.