That the rebuilding Brewers made outfielder Khris Davis available came as no surprise. What was shocking on Friday, however, was that it was the Athletics who pulled the trigger on a trade. The A’s, under Billy Beane, placed a high level of importance on on-base percentage. What could they possibly like about Davis, brandishing a career OBP of .315, 10 points below the aggregate league average over the last three seasons?
Indeed, the Athletics sent catching prospect Jacob Nottingham and minor league pitcher Bowdien Derby (better known as Bubba) to the Brewers to bring Davis into the fold. Davis, 28, won’t be eligible for arbitration until after the 2016 season, meaning he’ll make slightly more than the major league minimum this year – a big plus for the budget-minded A’s. He’ll also be under team control through 2019, giving the Athletics plenty of time to judge if Davis is part of the future corps.
Coco Crisp, who spent most of the past season injured, has been relegated to DH duty and the Athletics consider any production they get from him a bonus. Davis will handle left field every day after platooning with Gerardo Parra in Milwaukee during the first half. Davis doesn’t have much of a career platoon split -- .813 OPS against RHP and .797 against lefties – but moving to the spacious O.co Coliseum dings his fantasy value. According to ESPN’s park factors, only three stadiums were less conducive to home runs during the 2015 season: AT&T Park, Turner Field, and Marlins Park. Davis set a new career high with 27 home runs but should be expected to finish closer to 20 going forward.
Catcher Jonathan Lucroy is expected to be dealt by the Brewers as well, which could mean that Nottingham will be the catcher of the future if all goes as planned. The 20-year-old was selected by the Astros in the sixth round of the 2013 draft and was sent to the A’s at the deadline this past season in the Scott Kazmir trade. MLB.com listed him as the eighth-best prospect in the Athletics’ system. At various Single-A stops in 2015, he hit an aggregate .316/.372/.505 with 17 home runs and 82 RBI. MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy notes that Nottingham will be a spring training non-roster invitee with the Brewers.
Derby, 21, was selected by the Athletics in the sixth round of the 2015 draft and performed quite well in his first taste of professional baseball. In 34 2/3 innings with low-A Vermont, he yielded only four runs (three earned) on 19 hits and 10 walks with 45 strikeouts. Derby is still a few years away from reaching the majors, but at the moment, he seems to profile better as a future reliever.
Mejia Gets Lifetime Ban
Get fooled by Major League Baseball’s drug tests once, shame on them. Get fooled twice, shame on you. Get fooled three times? Still, shame on you. Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug for a third time and received a lifetime ban.
Mejia’s first positive test came on April 11 last year, receiving an 80-game suspension for use of Stanozolol. Mejia tested positive again on July 28 for Stanozolol as well as Boldenone. This third test came up positive for Boldenone. He is the first player to receive a permanent suspension for performance-enhancing drug use and the second living player to be banned, joining Pete Rose for this ignominious honor.
Mejia maintains his innocence. ESPN’s Adam Rubin, quoting Dominican sports journalist Hector Gomez, reported that the right-hander said, “It is not like they say. I am sure that I did not use anything.”
There is some possibility Mejia can come back. After one year, he can petition Commissioner Rob Manfred for reinstatement. He must, however, sit out two years before becoming eligible to pitch in the majors again, which would mean he would be 28 years old with two years of rust.
The Mets and Mejia recently avoided arbitration in his second of four years of eligibility. Mejia earned $2.595 million last season and filed for exactly that amount, while the Mets countered at $2.345. They settled at $2.47 million, making Mejia a rare case where a player suffers a pay decrease progressing through arbitration.
Though Mejia was once a top prospect in the Mets’ minor league system and showed promise at times pitching out of the bullpen, losing him isn’t a huge deal to the ballclub. Jeurys Familia proved more than capable of handling the closer’s role while veterans Addison Reed, Jerry Blevins, and Antonio Bastardo back him up in the middle and late innings. Considering Mejia would only have returned mid-season had he not tested positive again, he would only have been trusted in low-leverage situations anyway given the layoff.
Mets to Exercise Caution with Wright
ESPN’s Adam Rubin reported on Saturday that Mets GM Sandy Alderson plans to be cautious with third baseman David Wright, setting a goal of 130 games maximum for the veteran. Wright, 33, missed a significant chunk of the 2015 season battling spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal column.
Wilmer Flores played some third base in 2013, his rookie season, so he would seem to be a natural fit to back up Wright at the hot corner, as he has been relegated to bench duty following the acquisition of second baseman Neil Walker and the signing of shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. Alderson noted that Wright will mostly sit against right-handed pitching, so the switch-hitting Walker or Cabrera could move to third base to cover Wright.
In 174 plate appearances spanning 38 games this past season, Wright hit a productive .289/.379/.434 with five home runs, 17 RBI, and 24 runs scored. That included an .818 OPS upon returning from the disabled list on August 24 through the end of the regular season. The seven-time All-Star’s best years are clearly behind him, but strategic rest could allow the Mets to maximize what they’re able to get out of him.
For fantasy purposes, Wright should not be drafted as a first-choice third baseman, but could make for a decent gamble to fill out a deeper roster slot, such as those that use multiple corner infield and utility slots.
Quick Hits: Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina had his cast removed from his surgically-repaired thumb on Sunday … Indians outfielder Michael Brantley’s timetable following shoulder surgery is still “hazy” … Kyle Hendricks and Adam Warren are expected to compete for the fifth spot in the Cubs’ starting rotation … Giants manager Bruce Bochy tabbed ace Madison Bumgarner to start in Milwaukee against the Brewers on Opening Day … Bochy also confirmed that Span will start in center field and bat leadoff for the Giants … Giants second baseman Joe Panik said on Saturday that he is “100 percent” recovered from a back injury that hampered him during the 2015 season … Dodgers pitching prospect Frankie Montas will be out two to four months after undergoing rib resection surgery … The Yankees and closer Aroldis Chapman avoided arbitration on Friday, agreeing to a $11.325 million salary … The Indians inked pitcher Tommy Hunter to a one-year, $2 million contract on Friday … The Marlins signed lefty reliever Craig Brewslow to a minor league contract on Friday … Twins first baseman Joe Mauer admitted on Friday that he has dealt with blurred vision over the past two seasons, stemming from a concussion suffered in 2013 … The Brewers signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract on Friday … The Royals and third baseman Mike Moustakas avoided arbitration on Thursday, agreeing on a two-year, $14.3 million contract … The Pirates signed lefties Cory Luebke and Eric O’Flaherty to minor league contracts on Thursday … The Dodgers are reportedly trying to trade Alex Guerrero ... The Rangers signed Ike Davis to a minor league deal on Sunday.