Khris Davis

Evaluating A's arbitration in 2018 MLB offseason: Khris Davis

Evaluating A's arbitration in 2018 MLB offseason: Khris Davis

(Over the next week, we will be examining each of the A's arbitration-eligible players to determine whether they will return in 2019.)

Khris Davis is the best power hitter in baseball. That's not an opinion. It's a fact.

Over the last three seasons, Davis leads all of MLB with 133 home runs. He led the league with 48 homers this past season and finished second with 123 RBI. It marked the third straight year he hit 40-plus home runs and drove in more than 100 runs.

Davis, 30, slashed .247/.326/.549 for the season. Incredibly, it was the fourth straight year he hit exactly .247.

Davis earned a team-high $10.5 million and is projected to get $18.1 million in arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

Why he might be a bargain

It's hard to call $18.1 million a bargain, but for Khris Davis, it probably is. Davis affects the A's lineup in a way that very few other hitters can. He changes the way other A's players are pitched and can change any game with one swing of the bat.

Davis has also been extremely durable during his three seasons in Oakland. He has missed just 32 games over the course of three years, playing in 150 games or more in all three seasons. Davis' power numbers have improved each year in Oakland, from 42 home runs and 102 RBI in 2016, to 43 homers and 110 RBI in 2017, to a career-high 48 round-trippers and 123 RBI in 2018.

Why he might be too pricey

It's honestly hard to even make this argument. I guess you could say $18.1 million is too much for a designated hitter who doesn't hit for a great average.

While it's obviously a lot of money, Davis has earned whatever he gets.

Verdict

Davis will be back in Oakland next season. Executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane has already said as much. The real question is whether the A's will lock him up past 2019.

Beyond his production on the field, Davis has become a leader in the clubhouse and a fan favorite. He truly loves playing in Oakland, and Oakland loves him.

Breaking down A's projected contract arbitration salaries for 2019

Breaking down A's projected contract arbitration salaries for 2019

The A's have several key players eligible for arbitration this offseason. Each year, MLB Trade Rumors projects arbitration salaries for every team. Here are the numbers they project for Oakland in 2019...

Khris Davis - $18.1 million

When you lead all of baseball in home runs, you're obviously going to get paid. The A's were able to avoid arbitration with Davis last season, agreeing to a one-year, $10.5 million deal. They will try to do the same this offseason, but whatever the number is, Oakland will happily pay it. Davis has earned every penny.

Mike Fiers - $9.7 million

Fiers earned $6 million in 2018, so this would represent more than a 60 percent raise for the right-hander. Whatever the number ends up being, the A's will have a hard time letting Fiers go, especially with all the injuries they are still dealing in their starting rotation.

Marcus Semien - $6.6 million

Semien put together a stellar all-around season, improving his defense tremendously. This number would be more than double his $3.125 million salary in 2018, but the A's will likely pay it.

Blake Treinen - $5.8 million

This is the no-brainer of all no-brainers. Treinen had one of the greatest seasons by any closer in baseball history, while earning just $2.15 million. The A's will pay whatever the number ends up being.

Sean Manaea - $3.8 million

Unfortunately, Manaea is expected to miss most, if not all of the 2019 season as he recovers from shoulder surgery. Nonetheless, the A's will keep their ace around and hope he comes back as strong ever.

Kendall Graveman - $2.5 million

Graveman underwent Tommy John surgery in August, meaning he won't be able to pitch until 2020, when he is 29 years old. The right-hander was Oakland's Opening Day starter this season but struggled right from the get-go. It may be time for the A's to part ways with Graveman.

Chris Hatcher - $2.4 million

Hatcher struggled in limited action this season. It would be hard to imagine him returning to Oakland.

Cory Gearrin - $2.4 million

The A's have a deep enough bullpen where they can probably let Gearrin walk for this number.

Liam Hendriks - $2.1 million

Despite a rough outing in the Wild Card Game, Hendriks was terrific in the month of September. The A's could very well bring him back for this number, which is just $200k more than his $1.9 million salary in 2018.

Mark Canha - $2.1 million

The A's have a crowded outfield, but Canha provided some serious power against left-handed pitching, while earning just $547,500. For just a shade over $2 million, he will likely be back next season.

Chris Bassitt - $1.6 million

Bassitt provided nice depth in the rotation when the A's were hit with the injury bug, but he spent most of the season in the minor leagues. He seems unlikely to be back for this number.

Ryan Buchter - $1.3 million

This would be a bargain for Buchter, who did a great job as Oakland's lone left-handed reliever for most of the season. He only earned $555k in his first season with the A's, making his 2.75 ERA even more impressive.

Josh Phegley - $1.2 million

Phegley proved more than capable of being a solid backup catcher. He earned $905k this past season, and a raise to $1.2 million seems reasonable.

Ryan Dull - $900k

Dull bounced up and down between the minors and majors, but primarily struggled at the big league level. He likely won't return.

Jake Smolinski - $800k

Smolinski was not a factor for the A's and is unlikely to return.

A's have had 'preliminary talks' on Khris Davis contract extension

A's have had 'preliminary talks' on Khris Davis contract extension

OAKLAND — Khris Davis will not be a free agent until after next season, but the A's have already begun discussions about signing him to a contract extension.

"We've had some preliminary conversations about keeping him around longer," executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane said Friday. "The good thing is Khris is going to be back next year for sure, no matter what. But we're also aware of the fact that he's going to be a free agent after that. We're aware of his value to the club."

Davis, 30, is under team control for 2019 and is eligible for arbitration. Last year, the two sides avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $10.5 million.

Davis figures to get a significant raise to at least $15 million after leading Major League Baseball with 48 home runs and finishing second with 123 RBI, while incredibly hitting .247 for the fourth straight year.

"I know he's going to hit .247 next year," Beane joked. "We can count on that consistency. We also know he's going to hit 40 home runs. I'm a big fan of the home run."

Indeed Davis has hit 40 or more home runs in each of his three seasons with the A's, joining Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx as the only players in franchise history to reach that number in three straight seasons. Since 2016, he leads all of baseball with 133 homers.

Davis has said he enjoys playing in Oakland and hopes to stay with the A's for years to come.

"I envision myself winning a championship in Oakland," he told NBC Sports California earlier this season. "We've got a great group of guys I like to be around and just grow with them on a daily basis. I like where I'm at right now."