It’s meeting time in Oakland. The A announced Wednesday that they have signed designated outfielder / hitter Khris Davis to a minor league contract and assigned him to his affiliation with the Arizona Complex League.
Davis, of course, has been a mainstay of the Athletics line since 2016-20, recording a 40-homer campaign trio as the team’s first designated hitter on the road. Davis rather remarked he posted a .247 batting average in four consecutive seasons with the A’s, complementing that with healthy walking rates and peak power. Davis led the Major League Baseball home run from 2016-18. Add it in the 2019 season, and only then Nelson Cruz and Nolan Arenado he surpassed it in total long balls.
The slugger had made it so long that he hoped to stay in Oakland, and the A took the rather rare step (for them) of stretching Davis and buying several seasons of free agents. Unfortunately, the two-year contract, $ 33M, turned out to be a mistake, as Davis ’stock fell short after the agreement was signed. He hit just .200 / .303 / .329 across 99 plate appearances in 2020, the first season of that extension, and Oakland dragged him to the Rangers in a season-long deal that led to Elvis Andrus to the A and brought pay benefits for both clubs. Things didn’t go well for “Khrush” in Texas, either, since he slashed just .157 / .262 / .333 in 61 plate appearances before being designated for assignment and release.
Of course, any mention of Davis ’downfall must take into account his health – or lack thereof -. Davis played through hip, oblique and hand injuries in 2019 as his plate fall began, and while he made no apologies for his declining power numbers, he finally recognized that his injuries had affected his swing when asked. Davis explained that he had begun to suffocate a little to compensate for the lack of strength in his hand, which had inversely influenced his power play. If Davis was full in good health in one of the next two seasons, he may not be sure, but he will also regain the prodigious power or remarkable consistency at the plate that he has shown in his top form.
It may be a long shot to see the 33-year-old slugger return to those heights, at least in 2021, but A will take a risk-free look and try to find one of his old cornerstones on the track in the ranks of in minor links. His openness to do so should come as no surprise; Oakland-designated hitters have come together to hit just .217 / .292 / .380 this season. The A was linked to Cruz in commercial rumblings last month, but the AL’s eastern rays made the best offer for the former Slugger Twins and acquired him about a week before the expiration of the July 30th.