Athletics

A's, Khris Davis avoid arbitration, but is this a long-term union?

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USATSI

A's, Khris Davis avoid arbitration, but is this a long-term union?

The A’s took care of a big piece of business with their top run producer, signing slugger Khris Davis to a one-year contract Wednesday and avoiding arbitration.

FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported the sides settled on a $10.5 million salary. That’s more than double the $5 million Davis made last season in his first trip through the arbitration process, but a huge raise was expected after Davis put up more monster numbers in his second year with Oakland.

His 43 home runs in 2017 ranked second in the American League and he was third in RBI with 110. Consider that Davis is the only major leaguer to crack the 40-homer mark in each of the past two seasons, and only Giancarlo Stanton has more total homers during that span (86 to Davis’ 85).

That obviously makes the 30-year-old Davis a valuable commodity.

“Back to back 40-homer years in this ballpark. You guys don’t talk about it enough,” A’s executive VP of baseball operations Billy Beane said in October. “When we acquired him (in a trade from Milwaukee) we knew we got a guy with a lot of power. I think we were thinking a 30-homer guy. The fact he’s gone 40 back-to-back is pretty amazing. He fits in perfectly here. I think having that big bat that Khris brings helps guys like (Matt) Olson and (Matt) Chapman.”

So it’s clear the A’s value Davis, and that’s why he hasn’t been traded thus far, as many around the game speculated he might be this winter. But where do things go moving forward?

He’ll be eligible for arbitration one more time next winter before he’s able to test free agency heading into the 2020 season. If you’re an A’s fan, you know where this is going. If July hits and the A’s are floundering in the standings, Davis no doubt will be a trade candidate. He’d have appeal as a proven slugger who would remain under team control for 2019.

But Davis is a rare breed. He loves playing in Oakland and doesn’t hide that fact. The pitcher-friendly Coliseum has done nothing to suppress his power. In fact, he’s thrived. His 26 home runs at the Coliseum in 2017 fell one short of Jason Giambi’s Oakland record for homers by a home player.

It would seem he’d be open to a long-term extension, and the sides reportedly have held past discussions about one. The A’s have designs on signing some of their younger core players to extensions. But you’d have to rank it as a surprise were they to actually complete an extension with Davis, given the money he would command.

More than likely, Beane and his staff will evaluate the team through the first half of the upcoming season, weigh the pros and cons of dealing him, and if he stays, enter through this arbitration process again next winter, knowing that he’ll command even more bucks on another one-year deal.

An ‘X’ factor is how Davis adjusts to his shift from left field to designated hitter. He told NBC Sports California in November that he prefers the outfield but will fill whatever role is best for the team.

The feeling here is that he’ll put up the same numbers that fans have grown accustomed to, and the ball will be in the A’s court as to how long he remains in green and gold.

Brett Anderson sprains left ankle vs. Toronto, hopes to make next start

Brett Anderson sprains left ankle vs. Toronto, hopes to make next start

OAKLAND – A's starter Brett Anderson left Sunday's game against the Blue Jays in the top of the third inning after spraining his left ankle trying to field a slow roller. The good news is that the injury doesn't appear to be serious and he has a chance to make his next start.

"I just rolled my left ankle," Anderson said after the game. "I threw a couple of warm-up pitches and it didn't really hurt per se, but I just couldn't push off and it didn't really feel stable. I got it taped up and will get some treatment and it should be fine."

A's manager Bob Melvin also seemed optimistic that his left-hander could avoid a trip to the injured list.

"He didn't feel awful," Melvin said. "We're going to wait and see how he feels tomorrow. I think there's still maybe some hope that he makes his next start, especially with the off day we're getting."

With two outs in the top of the third inning and runners on second and third, Randal Grichuk tapped a swinging bunt between third base and the pitcher's mound. Anderson broke toward the ball but immediately fell down after rolling the ankle.

[RELATED: Watch Laureano's insane catch]

"It's just one of those things where it's day-to-day and annoying," Anderson said. "If it had been my landing leg, it might have been a little different, but having to push off and try to throw strikes and quality pitches, it probably wouldn't have happened."

Anderson ended up taking his first loss of the season, as the Blue Jays finished off a three-game sweep, 5-4. The 31-year-old is off to a great start this season, allowing nine earned runs in 26 2/3 innings for an ERA of 3.04.
 

Watch A's Ramon Laureano rob Blue Jays of homer, start odd double play

Watch A's Ramon Laureano rob Blue Jays of homer, start odd double play

We're accustomed to Ramón Laureano doing incredible things with his arm. But on Sunday, the A's center fielder made one of the most incredible catches to rob the Blue Jays' Teoscar Hernandez of a two-run homer.

That wasn't the end of the play, though. Laureano fired the ball back toward first base in an attempt to double off Justin Smoak. The throw sailed over past first base and almost went into the dugout, so Smoak tried to advance to second. That's when A's catcher Nick Hundley, who backed up the play in Oakland Coliseum's expansive foul territory, fielded the ball and threw to second to get Smoak.

It was such an incredible play that A's broadcaster Dallas Braden lost his mind as the action unfolded.

Before Sunday's game, A's manager Bob Melvin spoke to the San Francisco Chronicle about what Laureano is doing on defense.

“We’ve seen [Laureano] do some big things, and now his name is getting around the league," Melvin told The Chronicle's Ron Kroichick. "Maybe they don’t run on him and you keep the double play in order. A lot of things transpire because of [a good arm], not just on the plays where he is throwing out guys.”

Melvin's words were prophetic, as Laureano made something incredible happen with his arm after the catch.

Keep doing incredible things, Ramón. We're enjoying this.