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OAKLAND ATHLETICS
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Acquired LF-R Khris Davis from the Brewers in exchange for C-R Jacob Nottingham and RHP Bubba Derby [2/13]

Right-handed power. The kids can’t get enough of it, presuming that the “kids” are baseball lifers, pundits, and general managers. Davis has it, pummeling 27 dingers last season in just 440 plate appearances. Davis has languished in the shadow of the Orioles’ slugger who bears a similar name and his own huge power. It also hasn’t helped that Davis has battered baseballs for the Brewers, a team with a Q rating surpassed by every other MLB baseball team, plus a few Triple-A squads.

Now Davis has the chance to take a bit more of a starring role with the Athletics, a team in need of his offensive abilities. He’s the prototype of the contemporary slugger–power over hit tool, a host of strikeouts but enough walks to keep his on-base percentage (.323 last season) respectable. Like a man he may have displaced–Mark Canha–Davis also doesn’t carry a massive platoon split. He actually has a reverse split, with a .295 True Average against right-handers last season to go with his still-respectable .261 mark against lefties.

Most heartening of all is probably that Davis seems to be surging at the right time. He’s entering his age-28 season on a roll, having torn up the league during the second half of the season. PECOTA–happy PECOTA Day!–projects him to be a solid contributor with his power pushing him to above-average overall offense and 2.8 WARP worth of value. The 90th percentile projection (.307 TAv) looks lovely, and they always do, but even his 10th and 20th percentile projections (0.8 and 1.5 WARP, respectively) still peg him as a useful cog under worst-case scenarios.

A bad-to-indifferent defender in left field, Davis is a natural DH; moving to the American League and to a team well-equipped to mix and match is an excellent fit. The Athletics now have a host of options for each corner. (You may argue that with Marcus Semien and Jed Lowrie manning the middle of the infield, they ONLY have options for the corners.) With four years of team control left on his contract, Davis will be an anchoring asset for the lineup for a few years … or more likely a year or two before Billy Beane and David Forst flip him to another team for a different mid-term asset. Perhaps its fair to call this method of adding players with four-to-six years of team control “prebuilding” instead of rebuilding?

Until then? Davis will hammer homers and play the part of every team’s ideal fifth- or sixth-hole hitter. Sure, that makes him the cleanup hitter for the A’s, but that’s just fine. The Athletics are used to playing talented players out of position. —Bryan Grosnick

Fantasy Impact

Khris Davis

The easy analysis here is that the park is a downgrade and Davis is moving to the American League. That's all true, but it doesn't tell all of the story here. In moving from Milwaukee to Oakland, he also moves from an organization with little major league depth to one with more outfielders than they can play at once (even if the competition isn't fierce). However, why this doesn't exactly matter in Oakland is that the Athletics have been taking advantage of platoons of all forms. This means that Davis is likely looking at around 75-100 fewer plate appearances in Oakland, even if he is the player he's hinted at. That's not insignificant, and it leaves him shy of OF3 status for this season.

Mark Canha/Coco Crisp

They say you're supposed to get power from left field, and now the Athletics will. Crisp will instead shift to an overpaid reserve outfielder and Canha becomes a part-time player, which is likely what he would have played himself into eventually anyway. —Bret Sayre

TEXAS RANGERS
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Signed 1B-L Ike Davis to a minor-league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. [2/13]

Most employers these days want employees with skillsets that are “T-shaped”. That’s less a referendum on broad shoulders, and more about what’s needed in a given situation: “T-shaped” employees have a considerable depth of skill or knowledge in one particular area, but also have a broad range of other skills; think of it as a jack-of-all-trades, but master of one. In baseball, those types of ballplayers tend to be versatile and great last-minute roster fillers even if they’re not big names, including swingmen who can get ground balls and light-hitting outfielders with strong defensive profiles.

Davis is more of a “I-shaped” ballplayer. Instead of having a broad range of skills with one area of exceptional depth, Davis has a singular skill that doesn’t go so deep, not much in the way of secondary skills, and then a dot out in the ether that doesn’t fit anything. (That dot, by the way, is the powerful arm that allows him to be a sorta-good pitcher for a positional player, but is ultimately worthless as a first baseman.) His carrying skill is the ability to hit (and also reach base against) right-handed pitching—something he’s done well in the past but failed at during 2015. He posted a .248 TAv despite Oakland’s concerted efforts to put him up against opposite-handed pitching: 92 percent of his plate appearances came against righties. A bothersome hip could have sapped some of his power, but can’t take all the blame for a dip in his signature walk rate—it dipped to its lowest point (9.6 percent) since he entered professional ball.

Even if 2016’s version of Ike Davis could hit and reach base better than the 2015 model, his other skills threaten to sap the value he could provide. Davis has a bad reputation as a baserunner (-4.3 BRR in partial duty last season), and is limited defensively to first base. And while he had a decent defensive reputation when he first came up with the Mets, BP’s metrics have not been very kind to him over the past three seasons (-2.7 FRAA). If his bat isn’t cracking against right-handers, he’s nigh-unplayable.

Davis certainly no longer fits the mold of anyone’s ideal first baseman, and has a tough road ahead if trying to crack Texas’s roster. The Rangers already employ an accelerated, less volatile version of Davis in Mitch Moreland. I like Ike, but barring a series of injuries, we may not see him suit up in the bigs for the Rangers. —Bryan Grosnick

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
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Acquired C-R Jacob Nottingham and RHP Bubba Derby from the Athletics in exchange for OF-R Khris Davis [2/13]

I was admittedly bullish in my reports on Nottingham last summer, particularly on the defensive end. His raw physical assets showed as more raw than asset in subsequent viewings later in the summer, but I still maintain optimism for his defensive projection. The arm strength is there – it’s at least plus velocity-wise – but a slower natural cadence to his pop and a hitch in his delivery limit the utility at present. His hands and receiving skills are presently strong, and he’ll snatch balls in the zone with resolve. But he lacks explosiveness to get down on balls in the dirt, and the lateral agility doesn’t play as well against late-biting pitches down. Still, he’s a massive target behind the dish, and his frame extends a long way in each direction, which grants him a much larger margin for error than most catchers. He shows fluidity in his movement if not quick-twitch reaction, and his arm strength helps him overcome some of his delivery flaws. With additional seasoning his physicality and demonstrated work ethic gives him the opportunity to improve into solid-average range overall as a backstop.

Offensively, I saw nothing in later viewings to change my assessment. He’s a big, strong kid who utilizes leverage and timing well in his swing to unlock opposite-field power. He shows catcher awareness of pitch trajectories and the strike zone at large, and his long swing plays with his approach to right-center. He can get too aggressive in attacking pitches he swings at and lose his barrel, and there will be vulnerabilities up and in that he’s not likely to ever send into remission. But his outer-half coverage offsets some of his contact issues, and he has enough strength to muscle balls in any quadrant to far-away landing spots.

This is a potential first-division catcher, and one of the best catching prospects in baseball. —Wilson Karaman

Bubba Derby's real name is Bowdien Henry Asa Derby, which may actually be a better name than Bubba, but that's a story for another time. Derby has exceptional arm strength, and when he was working as the San Diego State closer early in his time for the Aztecs, he'd get his fastball up to 98 mph. As a starter, the fastball is still plus, sitting 92-94 with late life. His best offspeed pitch is a change that he throws too much, but it flashes above-average with his quick arm speed and a smidgen of late fade. The slider isn't where it needs to be at this point as it's often flat and doesn't have the depth you'd look for in a starter's breaking ball. He's also battled command issues, and as a pitcher who stands under six feet tall, there are concerns about his durability.

If the Brewers chose to move him to the bullpen he could become a high-leverage guy because of his arm strength and two quality pitches, but no should blame Milwaukee if they chose to see if the breaking ball improves, as there's no. 4 starter potential if/when that slider sharpens. —Christopher Crawford

Fantasy Impact

Domingo Santana/Rymer Liriano

The "hey these guys used to be real prospects" contingent of the Brewers' outfield is about to get some exposure in the majors. Santana might strikeout 200 times if he plays the full season as the long side of a platoon, but he could also replicate the power numbers that Khris Davis did (with a far worse batting average). Liriano has had power/speed potential since he was in short-season ball, and while it's been compressed since those days, with a real opportunity he could hit close to 20 homers and steal 10-15 bases. Then again, with neither of these players able to play center well, there can likely be only one.

Jacob Nottingham

National League plus hitters' park makes Nottingham's owners happy. Very happy. —Bret Sayre