The Case for Trading Khris Davis

At this point in the offseason, it is pretty clear where each team is at for 2016. We have the teams looking like contenders, and those looking like pretenders. Beyond that, there are the teams that are generally on the upswing, with lots of talent and a bright future, and those on the downswing, otherwise known as teams in the middle of “rebuilding.” One such team in that second category is the Milwaukee Brewers.

While the Brewers have already traded away all their most obvious trade candidates, at last year’s trade deadline and during this offseason, there are still a few interesting pieces that can be dealt. Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy are chief among them, but both come with concerns, either injury-related or monetary. One player that comes with neither, and may be the best trade asset of all for the Brewers, is Khris Davis.

For those who don’t know him well, here’s a little background on Davis. The 28-year-old outfielder has been with the Milwaukee Brewers organization since he was drafted by them in the 7th round of the 2009 draft. After spending his first four full professional seasons in the minor leagues, and a third of the season at the big league level in 2013, Davis has been a regular in the Brewers outfield for the last two seasons.

While both Braun and Lucroy come with injury concerns and/or financial constraints, Davis comes with neither. Since becoming a regular in 2014, Davis played in over 120 games in both the of the last two seasons, missing a little over a month of last season due to a knee injury at the end of May. Despite that injury, Davis is still only 28 years old and is not arbitration eligible until 2017. He will not be eligible for free agency until the 2020 season, making him a good long-term investment for any team looking for an outfield upgrade.

However, even with the long-term control and the relative youth of Davis, he still comes with some noted question marks. The main question that surrounds Davis is whether or not he is a one-dimensional player. Despite hitting a combined 49 home runs in just under 1,000 plate appearances between 2014 and 2015, Davis struggles to provide all-around offensive value while also struggling in the field. Davis hit under .250 in both of the last two seasons, and also provided negative defensive value by UZR. Despite that, Davis was an above average overall hitter, with a wRC+ of 109 in 2014 and 121 in 2015, showing he is improving as he enters his prime.

So for Davis the power and offensive production is there, and seems to be getting better as he enters his prime production years. As a trade chip, Davis holds some enormous value given his recent performance, his future potential, and his remaining years of team control. However, despite the trade value, no trade appears imminent, especially given the uncertain free-agent market for outfielders, with both Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes still available to be had.

Rather than trade Davis with competition, it is much more likely the Brewers hold onto Davis, at least until this year’s trade deadline, when they can get a more vast return. An alternative to that is holding on to Davis for the long term, given his contract status. However, it appears much more likely that the Brewers will take advantage of his value now, and attempt to speed up their rebuild though a trade.

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