OAKLAND — Khris Davis likes playing in Oakland. The Oakland Athletics like Khris Davis playing for them.
But the real kicker to why Khris Davis wants to stay with the A’s isn’t just about baseball or that he’s done so well here.
“There’s a love about the city,” Davis said during his press conference to announce his extension in the A’s Treehouse on Friday. “And good food.”
On Friday, the 31-year-old Davis and the A’s announced the signing of a two-year, $33.5 million extension that will keep him in Oakland through the 2021 season, one of the few times over the past 20 years that the A’s have been able to retain one of their bright young stars. It may be a sign of things to come.
“I hope that’s not overstating it,” said general manager David Forst. “All the work that’s going into staying in the city of Oakland, staying in a new ballpark — from my end and from (executive vice president Billy Beane’s) end, the reason to do that is to keep our team together. It’s what we’ve never been able to do.”
The extension total just about matches Davis’ total career earnings to date of just over $34 million, but only increases his average annual salary by $250,000, a steal for the man who’s hit the most home runs in Major League Baseball dating back to 2016.
“I just love coming to the ballpark. That’s where I spend most of my days, in the Coliseum. I just love the players I get to play with,” Davis said. “Over the years I’ve been with Oakland, I’ve learned a lot, and, just like experiencing the season with these guys you learn things.
“I kind of see it like we’re like at a baseball school almost. But it’s so much youth in there that it’s just a driver that I want to be a part of. And I think we could we could get to the playoffs again and again. I have no doubt in my mind.”
Since arriving to Oakland via trade from the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2016 season, Davis has hit .247 (has hit exactly .247 for each of the last three seasons), with 143 home runs while knocking in 355 RBI. He led baseball with 48 home runs last season and, entering Friday night’s series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays, leads baseball with 10 homers. Last season, he won the Edgar Martinez Award as the league’s best designated hitter.
“He deserves it. He’s the first guy that deserves it,” Ramon Laureano said. “I’m happy for him, happy for his family, and a couple more years here. I know he’s really excited and I’m just really, really happy for him that he gets to stay in the place that he wants.
“He helps us in so many ways. People don’t see it since he’s really quiet, but he helps in a lot of ways.”
To put his home run numbers into perspective, since 2016, New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton is the closest to Davis with 124 homers while the Yankees’ other slugger, Aaron Judge, has only hit 86 homers to date. This winter’s two top free-agent prizes, Phillies’ Bryce Harper and San Diego’s Manny Machado, have only hit 91 and 111 homers, respectively.
Getting Davis for just $16.75 million per season over the next two years is quite a bargain, and comes because of Davis’ affinity for the city.
“Oakland has been a special place for me since I arrived,” Davis said in a team statement. “I never hid the fact that I wanted to stay in Oakland, because that is how I feel, and I’m glad that I can continue to call the city of Oakland my baseball home. This team has a bright future, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”
Davis has averaged over 40 home runs in each of the last three seasons since arriving in Oakland, and is on pace for a fourth 40-homer year.
The extension was on Davis’ mind during the winter, but the A’s front office, specifically Forst, told Davis to just focus on baseball – one of the other reasons Davis wants to stay with the A’s.
“They just made it seem to where I just had to worry about baseball,” Davis explained. “In spring training, they called me into the office and just told me to just worry about playing baseball and I think that’s why I like it a lot here. Because, it’s easier to just focus on the game.”
Forst also knows how important it is going forward to keep the players on this current A’s roster, with a young core that includes Davis, Gold Glovers Matt Chapman and Matt Olson, shortstop Marcus Semien and local product Stephen Piscotty in right field.
“I think committing to KD kind of shows you what we hope is the strategy down the road,” manager Bob Melvin said. “And that’s to sign some of these other guys, too.”
The roster itself also knows how important it is to keep Davis around. as the roster knows how important it is to have Davis in Oakland.
“I think one thing I will say is in that talking to the other players on the team, a lot of them have said how important it is to them to have Khris here and he said the same,” Forst said in the presser. “When you talk to these guys and what they want is to be with us, and we understand how important that is. So, this is an important first step, hopefully, to what would be a lot of other players staying on.”