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A’s sign Matt Davidson to minor league contract

Rolling the dice on a veteran slugger

Arizona Diamondbacks v Washington Nationals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s lineup is slumping, but there’s a new veteran bat to watch in the farm system.

The A’s signed slugger Matt Davidson to a minor league contract, the team announced Monday. He was assigned to Triple-A Las Vegas.

The 31-year-old has appeared in the majors in six different seasons, playing nearly 300 games total. He debuted with Arizona in 2013, then suited up for the White Sox in 2016-18, saw some action with the Reds in 2020, and briefly returned to the D’Backs this year before being designated for assignment last week.

Power is Davidson’s calling card, and has been back to his days as a 1st-round draft pick and national Top 100 prospect a decade ago. He showed off that right-handed thump during his time in Chicago, blasting 26 homers in 2017 and then 20 more the next summer. However, those dingers came at the expense of tons of strikeouts and a low batting average, rarely grading out to much better than an average production line.

  • Davidson, MLB career: .222/.292/.433, 95 wRC+, 53 HR, 8.1% BB, 34.1% Ks

Since the end of 2018 he’s made it into only 25 MLB games, including five this year for Arizona in which he went 1-for-10 with a homer and three strikeouts. But in the meantime he’s kept his bat warm in Triple-A, crushing 33 long balls in 2019 in the Rangers system, and then another 28 last year in the Dodgers farm, plus eight more in 11 games last month for the D’Backs affiliate before being called up.

On defense Davidson plays the corner infield, split evenly between third base and first base. His metrics at both spots are slightly negative but not awful, so he’s firmly a bat-first player but he can help out at more than just DH. First base has been a particular hole in Oakland this year, with six different players already rotating through to make at least one start there, and they’ve started 11 different names at DH already through 29 games.

Analysis: Why not? It’s a free spin on a notable name, and the A’s rank 24th in the majors in homers. There’s basically unlimited opportunity in the lineup right now, with all kinds of prospects and scrap-heap signings getting chances, so here’s another fun lotto ticket to add to the pile. It costs nothing to try him out in Vegas, and if he makes it to the majors then there will be dingers.

Davidson signed a non-roster contract, so there are no changes to the 40-man or the active 26-man lists. Instead, let’s follow up on some players who have been designated for assignment this season. The A’s have made a ton of roster moves in the early going this year, and along the way they’ve DFA’d seven players.

  • RHP Jorge Juan
  • RHP Miguel Romero
  • LHP Sam Selman
  • C Austin Allen
  • OF Luis Barrera
  • OF Mickey McDonald
  • OF Billy McKinney

However, so far all of them have cleared waivers and stayed in the organization, except McKinney whose case is still pending. Juan was DFA’d on Sunday but re-signed with the team today on a minors deal, and the rest of the group received outright assignments back to Triple-A Las Vegas. Barrera already made his way back onto the 40-man roster and up to the majors, getting called up yesterday and starting in last night’s game against the Tigers.