The A’s have approached Khris Davis’ representatives at Octagon about a one-year extension for the 2019 season, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports within his latest column on the A’s (subscription required). The two sides are in the early stages of talks about a deal that’d buy out Davis’ final year of arbitration well in advance. Davis is controlled through 2019 regardless, so a one-year extension would largely be about establishing cost certainty for the club and about protecting against injury or a notable decline from Davis’ vantage point.
Oakland and Davis came to terms on a one-year, $10.5MM contract this past offseason, avoiding arbitration in the process. With another characteristically strong season at the plate — Davis is off to a .257/.339/.535 start with seven homers — the 30-year-old slugger would be primed for one more significant boost in his salary. As a loose point of reference, he received a $5.5MM raise this past offseason, so a typical season could push his salary beyond the $16MM point next year.
Davis’ skill set, while not one that has been rewarded handsomely in free agency in recent years, is one that still plays quite well in the arbitration process. Locking Davis up now could potentially save the A’s a bit of cash over what he’d command in his final trip through the arbitration process. Extensions of this nature aren’t exactly commonplace, though the Nationals brokered a one-year deal that bought out Bryce Harper’s final arbitration around this time last season.
While a salary ranging anywhere from $14-17MM (speaking speculatively) would be substantial for the budget-conscious A’s, Oakland can certainly afford to make that type of commitment to Davis in 2019. At present, right-hander Yusmeiro Petit and outfielder Stephen Piscotty are the only players signed to guaranteed contracts for the 2019 season. They’ll earn just under $13MM combined.
Oakland will have a sizable arbitration class, with Marcus Semien, Kendall Graveman, Blake Treinen, Liam Hendriks, Chris Hatcher, Josh Phegley, Jake Smolinski, Ryan Dull, Ryan Buchter and emerging ace Sean Manaea each qualifying in addition to Davis. Of that group, only Semien seems likely to command anything north of $5MM, though. Manaea will be first-time eligible as a Super Two player, while the others are primarily role players that are either first-time eligible as well (Dull, Buchter) or are currently earning relatively minimal salaries.
The A’s will surely want to leave some room for potential free-agent signings and trade acquisitions, particularly given their increasingly promising young core, though it certainly seems that there’d be room for Davis’ salary, the rest of their arb class, and a few new additions. Oakland will watch $26MM come off the books when Jonathan Lucroy, Matt Joyce, Jed Lowrie, Santiago Casilla and Trevor Cahill come off the books, and their Opening Day payroll of roughly $68.9MM was quite a bit lower than the $83.6MM they averaged from 2014-17.