Athletics

A's notes: For Davis, going yard is part of the job description

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A's notes: For Davis, going yard is part of the job description

SEATTLE — Cracking the 100-RBI mark was a load off Khris Davis’ shoulders.

He’d been stuck on 99 through six consecutive games before launching his 41st homer in the sixth inning Wednesday against the Angels, making him the 17th player in Oakland history to reach 100 RBI but the first since Frank Thomas drove in 114 in 2006.

“This game’s mental, and that’s the kind of things we deal with as players,” Davis said before Thursday’s game against the Mariners. “The numbers are always in our faces. It’s on the scoreboard, it’s everywhere. Just to get it off my back a little, it’s a breath of fresh air.”

But asked whether reaching 40 homers or 100 RBI was a bigger deal to him, Davis doesn’t hesitate. He thinks going deep 40 times is the greater accomplishment. As the A’s cleanup hitter most of the season, he said driving in runs consistently is a primary job requirement.

“I should (rack up a lot of RBI),” he said. “I feel like that’s how it should be, right? I think 75 would be way too low.”

Davis’ 41 homers rank No. 8 on Oakland’s single-season list. With one more, he’ll tie Jose Canseco (1988) and Mark McGwire (1992) for sixth place.

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The Mariners entered Thursday’s series opener two games behind Baltimore for the American League’s second Wild Card spot. As the A’s took batting practice, the Orioles-Blue Jays game played on Safeco Field’s JumboTron.

A's 2019 projections: Mike Fiers looks to repeat strong performance

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USATSI

A's 2019 projections: Mike Fiers looks to repeat strong performance

Editor's note: Over the next few weeks, NBC Sports California will be analyzing a different A's player each day to project their numbers for next season.

When the A's non-tendered Mike Fiers in November, it seemingly marked the end of his tenure in green and gold. But just a few weeks later, Oakland re-signed the veteran right-hander to a two-year, $14.1 million deal, addressing their need for starting pitching.

Fiers performed well last year after coming over from the Tigers. The 33-year-old made 10 appearances with Oakland, including nine starts, going 5-2 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. For the season, Fiers went 12-8 with a 3.56 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 172 innings. In eight career seasons, he has an ERA of 4.04.

Fiers was especially effective at the Oakland Coliseum, going 3-0 with a 2.91 ERA in six starts. While he is not necessarily a strikeout pitcher, he does a great job limiting walks and should benefit from the A's solid defense behind him.

Baseball Reference projects Fiers to go 10-9 next season with a 4.22 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. They also predict 139 strikeouts in 160 innings.

We expect better numbers than that for Fiers, who will anchor the A's rotation, especially during the first half of the season. Although he allows a high percentage of fly balls, pitching at the Coliseum will benefit him, as will Oakland's stellar defense.

[RELATED: Fiers' two-year contract makes A's look like geniuses]

Last year marked Fiers' best season since 2014 when he posted an ERA of 2.13 with Milwaukee. He seems to be getting better with age as he continues to hone his command and mix his pitches. We see no reason for that to change next season.

Projection: 13-8, 3.69 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 141 K, 171 IP

Source: A's unlikely to re-sign reliever Shawn Kelley in free agency

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USATSI

Source: A's unlikely to re-sign reliever Shawn Kelley in free agency

Shawn Kelley played a significant role in the A's stellar bullpen last season, but NBC Sports California has learned the veteran right-hander is unlikely to re-sign with Oakland.

Kelley, 34, has reportedly been in talks with about 10 teams, and his agent Mike McCann confirmed to NBC Sports California that the A's are not among those clubs.

The two sides did have conversations earlier this offseason but have not spoken since Oakland signed right-hander Joakim Soria to a two-year, $15 million deal nearly a month ago.

Kelley earned $5.5 million last season and is projected to get a similar amount next year. As much as the A's would like to bring him back, they have identified starting pitching as a higher priority.

After joining the A's from the Washington Nationals last year, Kelley went 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA and 0.78 WHIP in 19 games. Overall, he finished the season 2-0 with a 2.94 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 54 appearances.

He has a career ERA of 3.67 in 10 big league seasons.

Even without Kelley, the A's will boast one of the strongest bullpens in baseball next season. Oakland will bring back All-Star closer Blake Treinen, as well as setup men Fernando Rodney, Lou Trivino, J.B. Wendelken, and Ryan Buchter.

The addition of Soria will add even more depth to the group.

The A's would ideally like to sign another left-handed reliever to join Buchter in the pen, but again, starting pitching is the top priority.

Veteran starters Edwin Jackson and Brett Anderson are both still in the mix to return, though nothing appears imminent.