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Oakland A’s avoid arbitration with Khris Davis on 1-year contract

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Dingers!

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland A’s agreed with Khris Davis on a one-year contract on Wednesday, the team announced. Davis had been eligible for salary arbitration, but that process is now avoided thanks to this new deal. He’ll make $10.5 million in 2018, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

Khrush is the only Oakland A’s player ever to notch back-to-back 40-homer seasons, having swatted 42 in 2016 and then 43 in 2017. He’s up there with all-time names like Reggie, McGwire, Canseco, and Giambi in terms of Oakland slugging history. Here are the most prolific single seasons since the team arrived in 1968 (so, no Jimmie Foxx):

Name Year HR
Mark McGwire 1996 52
Mark McGwire 1987 49
Reggie Jackson 1969 47
Jose Canseco 1991 44
Jason Giambi 2000 43
Khris Davis 2017 43
Jose Canseco 1988 42
Mark McGwire 1992 42
Khris Davis 2016 42

Of course, homers were at an all-time high around the league in 2017, but even among his contemporaries Khrush is still one of the biggest dinger monsters around. He ranked third in MLB last season, behind only Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, and over the last two years combined he trails only Stanton.

Name HR 2017
Giancarlo Stanton 86 59
Khris Davis 85 43
Nelson Cruz 82 39
Edwin Encarnacion 80 38
Nolan Arenado 78 37

He doesn’t offer much else besides power, but he’s elite at that one skill. It’s been enough to make him a 2-3 WAR player each of the last two seasons, which in turn has earned him Team MVP honors both years here at Athletics Nation.

Khrush, 2017: .247/.336/.528, 128 wRC+, 43 HR, 110 RBI, 11.2% BB, 29.9% Ks

His poor throwing arm has led to negative defensive value in LF, but he’s expected to spend time at DH in 2018. The A’s traded away Ryon Healy to make room at that spot, and later beefed up their corner outfield by acquiring Stephen Piscotty. Khrush won’t necessarily be a full-time DH, but as things stand he should spend significant time there.

The arbitration process didn’t go so easily for these two sides last winter. They didn’t come to an agreement and eventually went all the way to a hearing, where Khrush became the first player to beat the A’s in arbitration in Billy Beane’s entire tenure with the club. This time around they avoided that situation, and in fact the new salary figure comes in slightly under MLBTR’s prediction of $11.1 million.

Analysis: This is nothing more than the inevitable tying of a loose end. The A’s were already committed to Khrush, and only needed to put a number on it. It’s a hefty price tag for a small-budget club, especially for a one-dimensional player whose top skill is not currently in high demand around the league, but it makes sense for this particular team at this specific moment.

Khrush is the veteran centerpiece in a young, up-and-coming lineup. By all accounts he’s a wonderful presence in the clubhouse and around the rookies, and he’s on record as loving The Town. Several of the A’s key players are newbies on minimum, pre-arbitration salaries, so there’s plenty of cash available to splurge on a fan favorite this year.

Welcome back, Khris, and congrats on your well-earned payday!

Link to fun memory: That time Khrush hit 3 homers including the walk-off grand slam (the one embedded above is the walk-off).

Up next: Oakland still has several more arbitration cases to settle in the coming weeks (MLBTR estimates in parentheses): shortstop Marcus Semien ($3.2M), catcher Josh Phegley ($1.1M), and pitchers Kendall Graveman ($2.6M), Blake Treinen ($2.3M), Chris Hatcher ($2.2M), and Liam Hendriks ($1.9M). They previously settled with outfielder Jake Smolinski for $775,000.