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The A’s acquired first baseman Ike Davis from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday in exchange for international bonus slot money.
Davis, 27, who was designated for assignment by Pittsburgh on Thursday, is a .240 career hitter but has shown pop in his left-handed swing, particularly against right-handed pitching. He hit 32 home runs for the New York Mets in 2012 but also racked up 141 strikeouts that season. Davis was dealt from New York to Pittsburgh in April of last season and hit a combined .233 with 11 home runs and 51 RBI. All of those homers and RBI came against right-handers.
A first-round pick of the Mets in 2008 (18th overall), Davis has 78 home runs and 270 RBI over five major league seasons.
His addition gives the A’s quite a number of first base options heading into next season, including incumbent Brandon Moss and recently signed Billy Butler, who is slated for time at the position. Indications from within the organization are that Oakland isn’t looking to trade any of their first basemen, but the surplus at the position certainly allows them to entertain the option.
Aside from Moss and Butler, there’s also Kyle Blanks, Nate Freiman and catcher John Jaso, the latter of whom general manager Billy Beane has said will also get a look at first. Stephen Vogt saw time at first last season, but he seemingly will get most of his time at catcher in 2015 following foot surgery that should have him 100 percent physically.
Moss is eligible for arbitration and could be in line for a salary in the $7 million range for the upcoming season. Jaso is arb-eligible and could earn in the neighborhood of $3 million, so there’s a significant financial commitment to those two players should the A’s keep them. Blanks, who missed the final three-plus months of 2014 with leg and foot injuries and also is up for arbitration, could make upwards of $1 million.
The trade of international slot money is a development that’s come along only in recent seasons. Each team is allotted a bonus pool of money that it can use to sign international players, and that amount is determined by winning percentage. That money is divided into four “slots” that have monetary value attached to them and can be traded.
The A’s traded the No. 27 slot ($501,900) for Pittsburgh’s No. 86 slot ($232,000). So the Pirates gave up an established player but got the better of the slot money exchange.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Davis, the A’s designated outfielder Andrew Brown for assignment.