A 40-homer reg­u­lar, A’s Davis has Olson, Chap­man to help

Houston Chronicle - - PRO BASEBALL - By Janie McCauley

OAK­LAND, Calif. — Khris Davis led the ma­jors with 48 home runs, led the Oak­land Ath­let­ics back to the play­offs for the first time in four years, then re­ceived a $6 mil­lion raise this off­sea­son for a 2019 salary of $16.5 mil­lion.

Next up could be a long-term ex­ten­sion, if that is Davis’ top pri­or­ity. It might not be. He put per­sonal ac­co­lades aside last sea­son, more de­ter­mined to get his team to the play­offs for the first time since 2014.

Davis is the top slug­ger in a power-hit­ting lineup that sur­prised much of base­ball with a run to the AL wild-card game and a loss to the Yan­kees.

“We never put sort of guide­lines or dead­lines on some­thing like that,” gen­eral man­ager David Forst said. “We have con­tin­ued that con­ver­sa­tion, and cer­tainly through spring train­ing, we’re open to it. It’s open to the player if they want to con­tinue into the sea­son, but it con­tin­ues to be an on­go­ing con­ver­sa­tion.”

Davis, 31, set a ca­reer high with 123 RBIs and joined Jim­mie Foxx (1932-34) as the only play­ers in A’s his­tory with three straight 40-homer sea­sons. Davis’ 85 homers in 2017-18 were se­cond dur­ing that two-year span only to Gian­carlo Stan­ton’s 86.

As Oak­land tries to build off a 97-win sea­son, here are some things to watch for this spring with the A’s, who open March 20-21 against the Mariners in Tokyo:

Kyler Mur­ray: The A’s still ex­pect Heis­man Tro­phy the for­mer Ok­la­homa quar­ter­back and first-round Oak­land draft pick to show up at spring train­ing. He would re­port right away to big league camp, too.

While Mur­ray de­clared for the NFL draft, Melvin hopes to man­age him in Ari­zona.

Drafted last June with the ninth over­all pick, the out­fielder signed with Oak­land for a $4.66 mil­lion bonus, of which $1.5 mil­lion was paid last sum­mer. The re­main­ing $3.16 mil­lion is due March 1.

Pitch­ers’ progress: Oak­land re-signed righthander Mike Fiers to a $14.1 mil­lion, two-year con­tract in De­cem­ber, then added righty Marco Estrada in Jan­uary for $4 mil­lion over one year. Those two give the A’s a pair of veteran front-line starters in a ro­ta­tion that re­mains thin as oth­ers re­cover from in­jury.

Lefthander Sean Manaea pitched a no­hit­ter against Bos­ton on April 21 in a bright start to a sea­son that ended with the ace’s un­der­go­ing shoul­der surgery in Septem­ber. He is ex­pected to be out un­til around the All-Star break.

Jharel Cot­ton had Tommy John surgery in March, fol­lowed by three oth­ers who also un­der­went the el­bow lig­a­ment re­place­ment pro­ce­dure: open­ing-day starter Ken­dall Grave­man, Daniel Gos­sett and top prospect A.J. Puk.

They’re set: A pair of pow­er­ful Matts com­ple­ment Davis’ big bat. Third base­man Matt Chap­man is com­ing back from left shoul­der surgery in De­cem­ber, hop­ing to find the stroke that led to 24 home runs, six triples and 68 RBIs in his first full big league sea­son. Matt Olson, mean­while, played all 162 games for Oak­land and hit .247 with 29 homers and 84 RBIs.

Chris­tian Petersen / Getty Im­ages

Khris Davis last year had an MLB-best 48 homers and ca­reer-high 123 RBIs.

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