Aug 9, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers left fielderKhris Davis
(18) hits a two run home run in the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
A year ago today I would have rolled my eyes at fans that were calling for Khris Davis to be traded. And to be fair, those fans seemed to want him gone simply because he is frustrating to watch, due to his swing-and-miss tendencies and weak outfield arm.
But now the Brewers have an abundance of high-level outfield prospects, with Domingo Santana knocking at the proverbial Major League door. That makes Davis expendable.
In 254 plate appearances, Khris Davis has slashed .242/.327/.462, 11 home runs and a 114 wRC+. These numbers make him above average offensively overall, and would make him an average designated hitter this season. That’s where the Angels come in.
Los Angeles has turned to 33-year-old David Murphy as the team’s DH after an uninspiring start from incumbent C.J. Cron. The latter has shown disappointing pop since joining the Big League club, and never walked much, while Murphy is a journeyman with a $7 million team option for next year.
Defensive metrics also show Murphy to be an awful defender, and he’s been worth -0.1 fWAR over the last three seasons (365 games). Obviously defense doesn’t matter if a player is purely a designated hitter, but with Albert Pujols on the roster, the DHs will spend a certain number of games in the field, playing their natural position, which Davis does adequately.
The second part of this potential match made in heaven is the Angels farm system. Los Angeles has one of the worst in the league, but they have two third basemen that could be a year or less from the Majors. I likely don’t need to emphasize to fans how much the Brewers need a third baseman.
Kaleb Cowart was a top 100 prospect for several years, but fell from favor when he seemingly forgot how to hit. This year, Cowart has an .806 OPS, including an even .900 OPS in AAA Salt Lake. Cowart is considered an outstanding defender at the hot corner, but has just a 45 grade on mlb.com.
It is very possible that Cowart has earned his way back into favor with the Angels, but fellow third baseman Kyle Kubitza should make him available.
Unlike Cowart, Kubitza has hit throughout the minors, owning an career OPS of .815, and he continues to hit in AAA. Though he strikes out too much (as does Cowart), Kubitza walks a ton (.405 OBP last year in AA) and plays good defense with a strong arm.
Cowart went unselected when left to hang in the Rule 5 draft, while Kubitza is set firmly on the 40-man roster. Mlb.com also ranks Kubitza as a 45 grade prospect, both have raw power that they don’t tap into enough, and they could be interchangeable in terms of trades– it comes down to which player the Angels see more as their next third baseman.
Another thing worth noting is that the Angels have a lot of money invested in a few top players, and they just ate a ton of Josh Hamilton‘s contract. The idea of bringing in a cheap option for DH that the team can control for the remainder of the decade must be attractive.
I don’t pretend to be a great match maker when it comes to the secondary prospects and players to be named later of a trade, but Davis and Cowart (or Kubitza) as the main pieces of a swap would be beneficial for both sides.
Even if Cowart proves to be average or slightly below with the bat, his elite arm and high level of defensive play would make him a mainstay at the Brewer’s hot corner as the team stocks up with young, groundball pitchers. Cowart is far from a guarantee, given his up-and-down career thus far, but Davis is quickly becoming expendable, and the team desperately needs some corner infield help.