MILWAUKEE -- With Maryvale Baseball Park beginning to buzz, the Brewers' rebuild rolled on Friday with a trade that sent slugging left fielder Khris Davis to Oakland for MLB Pipeline's No. 8 catching prospect, Jacob Nottingham, plus pitching prospect Bubba Derby.Davis' throwing arm limits him to left field, but he
MILWAUKEE -- With Maryvale Baseball Park beginning to buzz, the Brewers' rebuild rolled on Friday with a trade that sent slugging left fielder Khris Davis to Oakland for MLB Pipeline's No. 8 catching prospect, Jacob Nottingham, plus pitching prospect Bubba Derby.
Davis' throwing arm limits him to left field, but he gives the A's a dose of prodigious power at the plate and has four remaining years of club control. The Brewers, meanwhile, eased a left-field logjam while continuing to stockpile prospects, including a 20-year-old, highly rated catcher to bolster their Minor League ranks while they weigh interest in All-Star Jonathan Lucroy.
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"It's tough trading a guy like Khris," Brewers GM David Stearns said. "This is a guy who had a really nice year last year, a really strong second half. But you have to part with value sometimes to get that high-impact value we're looking for in return. If we're going to part with value off the Major League team, I believe in doing so from an area of depth and strength. That's the best way to do it."
Davis, 28, won't be arbitration-eligible until after the 2016 season. He'd been the Brewers' primary left fielder for the past two-plus years while hitting 60 home runs with an .809 OPS in 321 Major League games over that span.
But the Brewers had depth at his position. Assuming Ryan Braun remains in right field, moving Davis opened left for Domingo Santana, a 23-year-old acquired in a July 30 blockbuster trade with the Astros, who showed the same raw power as Davis plus superior defense. In 145 at-bats with the Brewers, Santana hit six home runs and reached base at a .345 clip.
Stearns stopped just short of naming Santana the team's starting left fielder, saying he would have ongoing discussions with manager Craig Counsell about the position during Spring Training.
Both prospects are highly regarded. Nottingham was No. 8 on MLBPipeline.com's most recent list of the top A's prospects after hitting .316/.372/.505 with 17 home runs and 82 RBIs for a trio of Class A affiliates in 2015. Stearns knows him well since he was Houston's assistant GM when the Astros made Nottingham a sixth-round Draft pick in 2013 and was involved in discussions that sent Nottingham to Oakland last July in the Scott Kazmir trade.
Nottingham turned down a scholarship to play football at the University of Arizona when he signed with the Astros, and he also has pro experience at first base. He will be a non-roster invitee to Milwaukee's big league camp.
"We certainly believe he has a chance to be [the team's catcher of the future]," Stearns said. "He's an extremely polished and advanced offensive player for such a young age. He has a great feel for hitting and above-average power. When you can get that in a package with the ability to play behind the plate, it's a unique profile. We'll continue to develop him as a catcher."
Bowdien Henry Asa "Bubba" Derby was Oakland's sixth-round Draft pick last year out of San Diego State. The right-hander had a strong debut between Rookie ball and the low Class A level, with a 1.21 ERA and nearly 12 strikeouts per nine innings in 14 games, including 10 starts. His MiLB.com profile lists Derby at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds. He turns 22 on Feb. 24.
It's the Brewers' ninth trade in four-plus months under Stearns, who continued a rebuild that began under his predecessor, Doug Melvin. Since July, the Brewers have traded away their starting first baseman, third baseman, shortstop, left fielder, two center fielders, a starting pitcher and a closer, mostly picking up prospects in return.
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By moving from the offense-inducing confines of Miller Park to the pitcher-friendly Coliseum, Davis -- who compiled 21 homers across 233 at-bats in the second half of 2015 -- is less likely to produce a lofty round-tripper total this season. Beyond the effect of the venue change, the 28-year-old will need to avoid slumps to stay ahead of a crowded corner-outfield group that includes Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick and Mark Canha. Davis and Reddick can still be drafted in mixed leagues, while Crisp and Canha are relegated to American League-only squads.
Back in Milwaukee, this trade makes Santana a fine mixed-league sleeper. With eight homers across 177 career at-bats, the slugger has the potential to threaten the 25-homer mark if he can limit his whiffs well enough to stay in the regular lineup. The trade also creates a void in center field, but the main candidates -- Rymer Liriano and Kirk Nieuwenhuis -- are unlikely to impact most leagues. Owners in deep formats may wish to use a bench spot on prospect Brett Phillips, who could join the regular lineup this summer if he gets off to a strong start in the Minors.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.