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Davis looks to remain in heart of A's lineup

MLB's home run leader last season seeks contract extension
February 17, 2019

MESA, Ariz. -- Khris Davis is a simple man eyeing a complicated free-agent market, one he'd like to avoid altogether by signing an extension with the A's.That, too, is a complex matter. But on Sunday, Davis expressed hope that a deal will ultimately be reached; Major League Baseball's 2018 home

MESA, Ariz. -- Khris Davis is a simple man eyeing a complicated free-agent market, one he'd like to avoid altogether by signing an extension with the A's.
That, too, is a complex matter. But on Sunday, Davis expressed hope that a deal will ultimately be reached; Major League Baseball's 2018 home run leader yearns for "at least three more years" in Oakland.
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"That's a long time to be an Oakland A," Davis said, "but if anybody can do it, I guess it's me, hopefully."
Endearing to teammates and beloved by fans, Davis is the heart of these A's. He also happens to be a prolific power hitter, totaling more home runs over the previous three seasons (133) than any other player. Consistency extends to his batting average, too, almost eerily; Davis has hit .247 in four consecutive seasons.
Davis was given a $6 million raise this offseason, avoiding arbitration in his final year of eligibility with a one-year, $16.5 million deal -- the highest single-season salary in team history.
Davis' services will presumably be worth even more after the 2019 season, and the A's could attempt to keep him in the fold for at least one more season by extending their designated hitter a qualifying offer, which will be valued at more than $18 million.
Yet, Davis would prefer more years, even if it means less money.
"I don't want to break the bank," he said. "I want to be happy playing baseball. I'm not trying to max out the dollars.
"$16 million, this is the top for me. I don't want more than that. I'll probably have to take a cut, and that's fine, as long as I'm here."
How much of a cut? Davis told MLB.com he would be willing to settle for as little as $10 million per year, so long as he's guaranteed at least two more years to take him through the 2021 season.
Davis' agent will understandably fight for more for his deserving client; last season, when the two sides engaged in extension talks, Davis' camp brought a three-year deal to the table with a much higher average annual salary, according to sources. The A's preferred two years and were also apart in dollars.
Little dialogue has ensued.
"I think both sides sort of know where we are," Oakland general manager David Forst said. "It's just a matter of if there's a breakthrough to come to a common place.
"It's a two-way street. I hope we can do it. He's critical to what we do, but I can't handicap it right now."
In the meantime, baseball's free-agent market has frozen over. Dozens of big-name players remain unsigned, even as teams prepare to enter the second week of Spring Training. Davis is admittedly worried about the prospect of being among them at this time next year.
"It's not a good thing being a free agent right now," he said. "I'm already 31. I don't know if I'm too old. There's a lot of things that run through my head."
Big deals are becoming rarer for players deemed past their prime. Rather, "it's more of a pay for what you think they're going to do as opposed to pay for what they did in the past, and you're not seeing long-term contracts as much," manager Bob Melvin said.
Davis is adored by Melvin -- "He said some nice things about me in the team meeting yesterday," Davis said, "so it made me feel a little more secure" -- and wants to keep winning under his watch. Last year, Davis and the A's ran up 97 wins before dropping the American League Wild Card Game to the Yankees.
"I think he's been as good a fit here as some of the great players in the past here," Melvin said. "Since the day he got here, he seems like the perfect fit -- for our city, for our team, the attitude he has. A superstar that has an everyday-workmanlike mentality, doesn't want the spotlight. That's kind of what I was implying, and I mean what I said. He's been absolutely terrific for us."
It's a seemingly perfect marriage, yet history tells us they don't last very long in Oakland. Davis wants to change that.
"He wants to be here, but you also have to do the best you can for yourself and your family, too," Melvin said. "I think if push came to shove and everything was equal, I think we'd have a leg up on a potential other landing spot for him."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.