Athletics

Gray strikes out 11, Davis homers in A's 4-1 win over Marlins

Gray strikes out 11, Davis homers in A's 4-1 win over Marlins

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OAKLAND -- Sonny Gray wanted to lighten the mood in the Athletics' clubhouse before the game so he lit a few candles in an adjacent locker, lowered the lights and had peaceful, pan-flute music piped into the overhead speakers.

Then the Oakland ace went out and put the Miami Marlins' offense to sleep with his best outing in two years.

Gray struck out a season-high 11 over seven innings, Khris Davis homered and the A's beat the Marlins 4-1 on Wednesday.

"We were just getting everybody nice and relaxed," Gray said of his pregame routine. "It was a good way to start the day. If we're going to put this thing together here . we're going to have to get everyone together and that's just a little way to do that."

Jed Lowrie matched his career high with four hits including two doubles, and Matt Joyce reached base three times and scored to help the A's earn a split of the two-game interleague series.

Gray (2-1) was dominant while earning his second straight win. The right-hander, who began the season on the disabled list because of a strained lat, retired the first nine batters, struck out the side twice and pitched out of a pair of jams to strand runners at third. Gray walked one and allowed three hits.

The 11 strikeout were one shy of Gray's career-best.

"That's what the really good ones do," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "They have a level and they have another level when they need it. We saw everything that makes him who he is today."

Ryan Madson pitched the eighth and Santiago Casilla got the last three outs for his seventh save, getting Tyler Moore to foul out with two runners on base to end the game.

Edinson Volquez (0-7) allowed three runs over six innings and tied the Marlins franchise record for most consecutive losses to open a season. The 33-year-old right-hander has dropped eight straight decisions overall dating to 2016, the longest drought of his career.

"When I signed on here I was hoping to be better than what I am right now," Volquez said. "The longer I'm pitching the way I did tonight, I'm good with it. I think I threw the ball pretty good today. One mistake. I threw a fastball to Davis and the ball keeps going."

The A's won despite three errors. They have 46 this season, most in the majors.

Dee Gordon singled and scored Miami's lone run.

LOWRIE WARMING UP:
Lowrie doubled and scored on Davis' 14th home run of the season, a two-out opposite field shot off Volquez. Lowrie added an RBI double in the fifth then singled in Adam Rosales in the seventh. It was Lowrie's team-leading 16th multi-hit game of the season and extended his modest hitting streak to six games. "Really consistent the whole year," Melvin said of Lowrie, who went 13 for 25 on the homestand. "Physically he feels better than he ever has. Durability-wise he's been out there more. I consistently talk to him about DH, but no, he wants to play."

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Marlins: LF Christian Yelich did not play and is day to day after suffering a right hip flexor injury during Tuesday's win.

Athletics: 1B Yonder Alonso wore a protective wrap around his right wrist and was held out of the lineup after getting hit by a pitch. Melvin expects Alonso to be in the lineup Friday in New York. . RHP Jesse Hahn, who left his start Tuesday with a triceps strain, underwent an MRI test but results were unknown . LHP Sean Doolittle (left shoulder strain) will throw live batting practice Saturday in extended spring training in Arizona. . RHP Bobby Wahl was placed on the 10-day disabled list with soreness in his shoulder and biceps tendinitis. RHP Zach Neal was called up from Triple-A Nashville.

UP NEXT:
Marlins: RHP Dan Straily (2-3) faces the Los Angeles Angels for only the second time in his career Friday in Miami. Straily has failed to make it past the fifth inning in seven of his nine starts this season.

Athletics: RHP Kendall Graveman (2-2) pitches against the Yankees on Friday when Oakland begins a three-game series in New York. Kendall is winless in five starts since coming off the disabled list.

Breaking down where the A's 2019 payroll stands ahead of free agency

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Breaking down where the A's 2019 payroll stands ahead of free agency

The A's entered the 2018 season with the lowest payroll in Major League Baseball at about $63 million. That number increased to around $80 million by the end of the season.

Heading into 2019, there is plenty of uncertainty, with only two players officially under contract. With that in mind, we take an early look at the 2019 payroll: 

Guaranteed contracts

Stephen Piscotty: $7,333,333
Yusmeiro Petit: $5,500,000

Retained salary

Brandon Moss: $1,000,000

Club options

Fernando Rodney: $4,250,000 ($250,000 buyout)
--- Assuming the A's buy Rodney out, that adds up to just $14,083,333 in guaranteed payroll for next season.

Arbitration

Here are the players on the A's 40-man roster eligible for arbitration, along with their projected arbitration number from MLB Trade Rumors:

Khris Davis - $18.1M
Mike Fiers - $9.7M
Marcus Semien - $6.6M
Blake Treinen - $5.8M 
Sean Manaea - $3.8M 
Kendall Graveman - $2.5M 
Cory Gearrin - $2.4M 
Liam Hendriks - $2.1M 
Mark Canha - $2.1M 
Chris Bassitt - $1.6M
Ryan Buchter - $1.3M
Josh Phegley - $1.2M 
Ryan Dull - $900K
--- If the A's keep all of these players, their projected cost would be $58.1 million. If the A's choose not to bring back Graveman, Gearrin, Bassitt, Phegley, and Dull, that number would go down to $49.5 million, bringing the total up to about $63.5 million.

Pre-arbitration

The following players on the 40-man roster are not yet eligible for arbitration and will likely make somewhere between $500,000 and $600,000:
Matt Olson
Matt Chapman
Franklin Barreto
Nick Martini
Ramón Laureano
Chad Pinder
Dustin Fowler
Jharel Cotton
Andrew Triggs
Paul Blackburn
Daniel Mengden
Daniel Gossett
Frankie Montas
Emilio Pagan
Lou Trivino
J.B. Wendelken
--- These salaries should end up around $9 million, bringing the total payroll to about $72.5 million.

Unrestricted free agents

Here are the A's unrestricted free agents, along with their 2018 salaries:

Jeurys Familia: $7.925M
Jonathan Lucroy - $6.5M
Jed Lowrie - $6M
Matt Joyce - $6M
Shawn Kelley - $5.6M
Edwin Jackson - $1.5M
Brett Anderson - $1.5M
Trevor Cahill - $1.5M
--- If the A's re-signed Lucroy, Lowrie, and Jackson, it would likely cost them somewhere around $15 million, bringing the total payroll close to $90 million. And that's without adding any free agents.

Clearly, Oakland will have some difficult decisions to make.

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.