Athletics

A's, Khris Davis, Marcus Semien, others agree to one-year contracts

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USATSI

A's, Khris Davis, Marcus Semien, others agree to one-year contracts

The A's announced Friday that they have agreed to one-year contracts with Khris Davis, Marcus Semien, Jurickson Profar, Sean Manaea, and Mark Canha, avoiding arbitration with all five.

Davis, 31, is the headliner of the group. He will reportedly earn $16.5 million, according to Fancred's Jon Heyman. That represents a $6 million raise from last season, but it's $1.6 million less than MLB Trade Rumors' arbitration projection of $18.1 million.

Davis led all of baseball with 48 home runs last season and finished second with 123 RBI, while batting .247 for an unprecedented fourth consecutive season. He is scheduled to become a free agent following the 2019 season.

Semien's deal is reportedly worth $5.9 million, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale. The 28-year-old earned $3.125 million last season and was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to get $6.6 million in arbitration.

Semien hit .255/.318/.388 with 15 home runs and 70 RBI last season. He also made great strides defensively and was named a Gold Glove Award finalist at shortstop. He still has one more year of arbitration eligibility.

Profar will reportedly earn $3.6 million, according to The Athletic's Robert Murray. The 25-year-old made $1.05 million last season and was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to get $3.4 million in arbitration.

Profar is coming off a breakout season with the Texas Rangers. He slashed .254/.335/.458 with a career-high 20 home runs and 77 RBI. Profar has one more year of arbitration eligibility.

Canha, 29, will earn $2.05 million, a source confirmed to NBC Sports California. Murray first reported the news. Canha was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to get $2.1 million in his first year of arbitration.

Last season, Canha hit .249/.328/.449 with a career-high 17 home runs and 52 RBI. He tore up left-handed pitching, slashing .282/.337/.604 with 13 homers and 28 RBI in 149 at-bats.

Manaea will reportedly earn $3.15 million, according to MLB's Mark Feinsand. He was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to get $3.8 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility. The left-hander is still recovering from shoulder surgery and is expected to be out until at least the All-Star break.

Manaea, 26, went 12-9 with a 3.59 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 27 starts last year before undergoing his season-ending surgery. He tossed the A's first no-hitter in nearly eight years on April 21 against the eventual World Series champion Boston Red Sox.

[RELATED: Sean Manaea could return from injury by 2019 All-Star break]

All-Star closer Blake Treinen is now the A's only remaining arbitration-eligible player. According to Nightengale, Treinen filed for $6.4 million while the A's submitted $5.6 million. MLB Trade Rumors projected the 30-year-old right-hander to get $5.8 million in arbitration after earning $2.15 million last year.

Treinen is coming off one of the best seasons in MLB history, finishing 9-2 with 38 saves and a 0.78 ERA. He recorded 100 strikeouts in 80 1/3 innings, allowing just 46 hits and 21 walks.
 

Frankie Montas turning into the pitcher the A's hoped he would become

Frankie Montas turning into the pitcher the A's hoped he would become

OAKLAND – Frankie Montas has always had the potential to be a frontline starting pitcher at the major league level. Now, at the age of 26, he's converting that potential into reality.

Montas spun 6 1/3 sparkling innings Wednesday night, limiting the red-hot Astros to a single run on just three hits, with six strikeouts. The talented right-hander improved to 3-1 as the A's snapped Houston's 10-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory at the Coliseum.

"You can see his confidence grow every time he goes out there," A's manager Bob Melvin said after the game. "It's starting to be dominant stuff at times."

"I feel like I'm throwing more strikes and having more command of my fastball in and out of the zone," Montas added. "The splitter really helped me a lot too."

That splitter is a new addition to Montas' arsenal, a pitch he sort of stumbled upon this spring.

"Honestly, I kind of just started playing with it in spring training," he said. "I was not really serious about it, but I saw that I could throw it and get good results. I was just trying to get something else for hitters."

Melvin highlighted the importance of the new pitch.

"It's been the key," Melvin said. "It's a true third pitch. His slider was really good too. Sometimes it's tough to tell the difference between the slider and the split. But a mix of pitches like that...he's a tough guy to hit when he's ahead in the count and feeling pretty good."

In four starts this season, Montas has allowed a total of seven earned runs in 23 1/3 innings for an ERA of 2.70. His 0.94 WHIP ranks first among A's starters as does his .190 opponents' batting average.

This is the pitcher the A's were hoping to someday see when they acquired him from the Dodgers in 2016. Early in his career, Montas suffered injury setbacks to his knee and later his ribs, but the ability never went away.

[RELATED: A's place Estrada on IL]

"There was a point in his career where he was on the path to do this," Melvin said. "The injuries sidelined him a little bit and he ended up being a reliever. He got humbled a little bit in relief and had to find a different way to do it, and he did. We saw it all spring and we've seen it all season."

Now fully healthy and brimming with confidence, Montas appears ready to fulfill his destiny as a big-league ace.
 

How A's Khris Davis changed batting stance to become MLB's best slugger

How A's Khris Davis changed batting stance to become MLB's best slugger

OAKLAND – If you've been watching Khris Davis since his time in Milwaukee, you probably noticed a pretty drastic change in his batting stance after he joined the A's.

Davis stands much more upright now and keeps his hands significantly lower than his stint with the Brewers. He says the adjustment was inspired by a Hall of Famer.

"I think I stand a little more like Griffey now," Davis told NBC Sports California, referencing former Mariners great Ken Griffey Jr. "That's what I thought in my head when I made the adjustment. You can see my hands are a little lower. My rhythm is a little different. Whenever I made that adjustment, it clicked right away and I haven't changed much since then."

Davis was already a pretty good power hitter in Milwaukee, belting 49 home runs between 2014 and 2015. But he took it to another level in Oakland, crushing 42 homers in 2016, 43 in 2017 and 48 last season. This year, he leads the majors with 10 round-trippers through 20 games.

"I think the swing changed with the stance," Davis said. "When I had my hands higher, the doubles weren't home runs. Now, the doubles are home runs."

A comparison of Khris Davis' batting stances in Milwaukee (left) and Oakland (right). "You can see my hands are a little lower," Davis told NBC Sports California. 

Added A's manager Bob Melvin: "I've seen video in the past and everybody makes adjustments from time to time over the course of their career. But what I know is what I've seen here, and it's been all pretty good. You don't need to make too many adjustments when you're hitting 40-plus home runs a year."

While Davis credits Griffey as the inspiration for his current stance and swing, NBC Sports California analyst Bip Roberts sees another former All-Star: longtime Cincinnati Reds outfielder Eric Davis (no relation).

"When we talk about throwing the bat head, Eric Davis was incredibly quick and so is Khris Davis," Roberts explained. "What they're doing is the old school way of hitting, and that's taking the bat head down to the baseball, down through it. And if they get a curveball, they can get under it because they have control of that bat head."

Davis notes that, while his current stance marks a significant change from his Brewers days, it's actually not completely new for him.

"In my head, I've done it throughout my whole life," he said. "The first time I did it when I was young, I hit a home run. That's just the one adjustment I could go to that's worked."

[RELATED: Davis dubbed 'the most interesting player in baseball']

Perhaps the most interesting element of the adjustment is that Davis made it on his own, without the input of A's hitting coach Darren Bush.

"No, that's completely me," Davis said. "Bushy helps me more with the mental side, how to slow the game down. The swing is the swing."

And the swing is effective. Since the start of the 2016 season, Davis leads the majors with 143 home runs.

"Different stances work for different guys," he suggested. "Whatever stance you feel comfortable in is what I recommend."