The Oakland Athletics have acquired left fielder Khris Davis from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for catching prospect Jacob Nottingham and right-handed pitching prospect Bowdien "Bubba" Derby. To open a space on the 40-man roster, the A's have designated left-handed pitcher Sean Nolin for assignment.
Davis, who turned 28 in December, will be entering his fourth season in the major leagues and is under team control through the 2019 season. His call up in 2013 was late enough to avoid Davis reaching Super Two status this year, and he is earning the minimum salary. He becomes arbitration eligible in 2017. The right-handed batting Davis owns a career batting line of .250/.315/.494 (119 wRC+) and has hit 60 home runs in 1,142 plate appearances, 27 in 440 last season. Davis rates as an average left fielder ("He'll never be a plus defender, but with those [fielding metrics] marks once can hardly call him a liability in the outfield," says Brew Crew Ball.)
Davis heads into a weird left field mix that currently has Coco Crisp, Sam Fuld, and Mark Canha available at that positions. Crisp is healthy now, but the A's probably are not relying on him to stay that way. Susan Slusser notes, however, that "Crisp will DH a lot and play some OF, Canha will bounce between OF and 1B again." The A's have reportedly been trying to salary dump Billy Butler, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
Heading to the Brewers
The A's acquired catcher Jacob Nottingham with right-handed pitcher Daniel Mengden in the trade that sent Scott Kazmir to the Houston Astros last July. Nottingham, turning 21 in April, was the Astros' sixth round choice in 2013. An impressive Low-A performance in the Midwest League earned him a midseason promotion to the High-A Lancaster JetHawks.
There is some concern that Nottingham's plate skills are far behind, which has caused his organizational prospect ranking to vary from as high as 3rd with the A's and No. 66 overall (Baseball Prospectus) to just missing the club's Top 10 (Baseball America). However, his bat should carry him even if he has to move to first base. He'll be getting his first test in Double-A this year. Our Community Prospect List put him fifth in the organization.
Oakland drafted Bowdien "Bubba" Derby in the sixth round of the 2015 Draft. Minor League Ball's John Sickels ranked Derby outside of his Top 20 prospects, but listed him in his "others of note." In his short-season campaign between the Arizona complex and Vermont, Derby struck out 47 and walked 10 while allowing two home runs. A's scouting director Eric Kubota told Bill Moriarity of Athletics Farm this after the draft:
He's kind of an average-height guy, and I think that probably pushed him down a little bit. There generally can be a bias against that in scouting. But just based on his ability and his stuff, and what he did with his stuff, we were certainly happy that we could get him in the 6th round when we got him. Obviously, he can throw strikes and he can miss bats, which are two things we value highly. We've seen him up to 93 mph. I've heard from other people that he was up in the high-90s as a closer, but we saw him up to 93 as a starter.
Designated for assignment: Sean Nolin
The A's had hoped Nolin would be a productive piece of the trade that sent Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays, but a sports hernia zapped him of his fastball velocity. A's general manager David Forst told us at A's Fanfest (transcription courtesy Bill Moriarity of Athletics Farm):
Well, right before we traded for Sean, he was throwing 94 mph in the Fall League - and you really felt good. And unfortunately, then he had the groin injury, and it really just lingered. I mean, the guy we saw here throwing 86, that was not the guy we traded for, and I don't think that's who Sean thinks he is. So, ultimately, until he gets out on the mound in spring training, you just don't know. But if he got back to being that guy, it changes his outlook completely.
One possible hope is that because Nolin is out of options, a team that might claim him on waivers would have to carry him on their active (25-man) roster. It's possible his value has fallen so far that there won't be such a spot for him on another team, and so he could have an opportunity to show he's the pitcher the A's traded for around Thanksgiving 2014.
We'll have more commentary and analysis on this deal shortly.