Just before spring training began in 2016, the Milwaukee Brewers traded outfielder Khris Davis to the Oakland Athletics. In return, they received two prospects. A little over a year later, the grade on this trade is a big A for the Athletics and one barely above passing for the Brewers.
For the Athletics to even seek out Davis’ services was a bit of a surprise. They were not expected to make too much noise last season and lived up to that expectation. This season is the same story. Oakland is not playing winning baseball, yet they have one of the game’s best sluggers starting for them in the outfield.
Davis capped off his debut season with the Athletics by slugging a career-high 42 home runs and driving in 102. Although he slashed a very one-dimensional .247/.307/.524 it was his power that obliterated the competition. He is doing similar things in 2017 while developing into one of the game’s best power hitters.
Meanwhile, the two minor leaguers the Brewers received are floundering in the minor leagues. Pitcher Bowdien Derby and catcher Jacob Nottingham joined the franchise as a result of this trade. At the time, both were somewhat notable prospects. Now they are guys who will have a lot of trouble making it to the big leagues.
Derby is currently in Double-A for the Brewers putting up some really good numbers. Unfortunately, he is doing so as a relief pitcher. The move from starter to reliever does not guarantee Derby is held back in the minor leagues for the rest of his career. It will just make it a whole lot tougher.
Last year was the final straw for Derby pitching as a starter. He was 6-13 with a 5.59 ERA in High Single-A. The Brewers saw enough of this. So, to salvage something from this trade, they are putting their faith in Derby developing into a bullpen specialist.
Nottingham has seen his fate follow in a similar direction. Once a very respected catching prospect with the Houston Astros and Athletics, the young backstop has hit a wall offensively ever since reaching Double-A. He hit only .234 last season and is below the Mendoza Line in 2017. Nottingham had actually cracked Baseball Prospectus’ top 100 prospects list in 2016. A year later and he’s barely on the radar to become a backup catcher in MLB.
Barring some kind of amazing turnaround in the next few years, the Athletics have clearly won this deal. Unfortunately, Davis will probably never help them win a World Series. On the plus side, the Athletics can always trade him for a new crop of prospects and hope to turn their fortune around.