Our hats are tipped toward the Oakland Athletics’ front office for its weekend acquisition of outfielder Khris Davis, proving that Billy Beane must be reading our stuff. Just 10 days ago, we pointed out how left field was a huge weakness for the A’s as they head toward spring training this month, and the team responded with a bold trade.
Oakland sent right-handed pitcher Bubby Derby and catcher Jacob Nottingham to Milwaukee for Davis, who will be under club control for another four seasons—just the kind of cheap talent the A’s like to acquire. Meanwhile, left-handed pitcher Sean Nolin was designated for assignment, reiterating just how bad Oakland got worked over in the Josh Donaldson trade.
But we digress: This trade restores some luster, as Nottingham was the prize of the Scott Kazmir trade last summer. The A’s seem to always have pitching depth, so flipping an overrated starter for an underrated power hitter works out fine for Oakland in the long run here.
As the A’s noted in their press release on the trade, “Davis batted .247 with 27 home runs and 66 RBI in 121 games with the Brewers last year. The home runs tied for 10th most in the National League. The 28-year-old right-handed hitter batted .260 with 21 of his home runs against right-handed pitching compared to .212 with six home runs against left-handers. Davis made his Major League debut with Milwaukee in 2013 and is a .250 career hitter with 60 home runs and 162 RBI in 321 games over three seasons.”
It doesn’t mention the affordability Davis brings with his power, nor does it qualify the serious need Davis fills in the lineup. Coco Crisp will no longer be relied on at his age, and he can be a fourth outfielder and pinch runner off the bench. Davis can start in left field most days, back up Josh Reddick in right field and give Manager Bob Melvin the roster flexibility he likes.
Perhaps an under-sung reality here, too, is that Davis can give declining designated hitter Billy Butler some protection in the lineup. The threat of going deep every at-bat means Butler could see more quality pitches if he hits in front of Davis regularly. Of course, the lineup for the season opener has yet to be determined, but it’s something worth considering.
The A’s needed both a power infusion and a real starting left fielder, and they found both in Davis at a great price. That’s the Billy Beane we know and love, even if Beane himself is no longer the “official” general manager of the Oakland organization. This trade has his prints all over it.