OAKLAND — Not even Billy Beane, the Oakland A’s czar of baseball ops, could have foreseen just how productive Khris Davis would be.
As the executive vice president sat on the stage alongside general manager David Forst on Monday morning for the club’s end-of-year press conference, Beane admitted as much.
“We knew we got a guy with a lot of power,” Beane explained. “But I think we were thinking 30-homer guy. The fact that he’s 40 back-to-back is pretty amazing.”
With 85 home runs in his first two seasons with the A’s, Davis is the second player in franchise history to top the 40-home run plateau in consecutive seasons. The last was Jimmie Foxx from 1932-1934.
The reserved left fielder, one of the few veterans on the roster, has also become a team leader in his own way.
“The younger guys rally around [him],” manager Bob Melvin said. “He is a significant — for a guy who doesn’t say a whole lot — he’s a significant personality for us in the clubhouse.”
The way Beane, Forst and Melvin spoke of Davis, it sounds unlikely that the team will shop the slugger this season. Instead, the front office seems prepared to hand Davis, who’s in his second year of arbitration eligibility, a healthy raise from the $5 million he made in 2017.
“If it is [a tough arbitration case], it is,” Forst said. “I mean, Khris is valuable … I don’t think you can overstate the impact he has on the rest of the lineup.”
‘The guy’ at second base
Like Davis, Jed Lowrie is an established A’s player whose spot is secure amid a sea of youth. When Melvin was asked who he expects to start at second next year, the manager was unequivocal in his response.
“Jed’s the guy,” Melvin declared.
With Marcus Semien entrenched at short, that means Franklin Barreto could be headed back to Triple-A to open up the 2018 season. Beane said that was a possibility, pointing out that Barreto is still 21.
The A’s have until five days after the conclusion of the World Series to pick up Lowrie’s $6-million club option.
Melvin also praised Lowrie — like Davis — for stepping up to guide the emerging core.
“He was great with our younger guys,” Melvin said. “And I think as the season went along he enjoyed being here more and more so, knowing that he was instrumental with these guys and they looked up to him.”