MESA, Ariz. – Khris Davis didn’t know many A’s players when he arrived to spring training, but he knew a bit about the team’s on-field fashion.
The white cleats, for instance. Those get a big thumbs-up from Oakland’s new left fielder.
“I love ‘em,” Davis said Wednesday afternoon. “I feel so fly right now. It’s incredible. I love it. That was (one) thing I heard about Oakland, the white cleats. I’m excited to do that, play in those.”
The A’s are excited to welcome Davis too, after swinging a trade with Milwaukee to get him Feb. 12. It was a significant piece to land so close to the start of spring training. The A’s gave up a highly regarded catching prospect in Jacob Nottingham to get Davis, along with minor league right-hander Bubba Derby. But both prospects are still at least a couple years away from the majors, a price the A’s could pay to land a bona fide power bat.
Davis hit 49 homers over the past two seasons with the Brewers, including 27 in 2015. That included a torrid streak after the All-Star break when he slugged 21 homers in just 71 games.
“I was surprised we made that deal,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “I think it came together pretty quickly. Anytime you get some right-handed power, a guy that’s hit 27 home runs in less than 400 AB's last year (392), it’s a nice complement to the middle of our lineup. So we were lucky to get him and very happy to have him.”
Davis, 28, was sitting in traffic on an L.A. freeway when he got a call from his agent, who told him about the trade. The Southern California native was thrilled at the opportunity, and being that he’s under team control through the 2019 season, the A’s view him as a building block beyond this season too.
“I can’t wait to just ball out, enjoy my teammates, help the organization win ballgames. And that’s what I’m here to do,” Davis said.
The son of former Major League scout Rodney Davis, Khris Davis was drafted by the Brewers out of Cal State Fullerton in the seventh round in 2009. He made his big league debut in 2013 and took over left field partway through that year after Ryan Braun was suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs. The following season, Davis hit .244 with 22 homers and 69 RBI.
He missed a large chunk of 2015 when he tore the meniscus in his right knee and required surgery. When he returned to health, Gerardo Parra had taken over in left field.
“We had Gerardo Parra as our fourth outfielder, but he caught fire and got the lion’s share of playing time until the trade deadline,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell told CSN California. “And with Khris, it was just, ‘Be ready, your time is coming.’ Then he went crazy the last two months of the year.”
Davis finished last season at .247 with 27 homers and 66 RBI in 121 games. Now he’s taking over left field for an A’s team that needed another offensive threat. Davis’ arrival pushes Coco Crisp into a backup outfielder role, but Melvin and A’s general manager David Forst both insist there will be enough playing time for everyone who’s productive.
Like Crisp, Davis’ throwing arm is considered suspect in left field. But there’s no doubting the raw power of the 5-foot-10, 195-pounder.
“He hits fly balls that don’t come down,” Counsell said. “He has opposite-field power. He’s a very good teammate -- a little bit quiet, but he’s a very good teammate.
“He’s just strong. He’s really strong.”
Davis said the only A’s players he knew before the trade were Billy Butler and Eric Sogard. But he’s been in camp for a couple days now. With the first full-squad workout set for Friday, he’ll get acquainted with everyone else quickly.
“It seems like a great bunch of guys,” Davis said. “I’m just excited to learn what they bring and show ‘em what I can do at the same time.”