The A’s added to their stockpile of first base possibilities for the 2015 season Sunday, trading with the Pittsburgh Pirates to get Ike Davis.
In dealing to get Davis, who was designated for assignment by the Pirates three days earlier, the A’s sent international slot position 27 to Pittsburgh while getting international slot spot 86 in exchange.
This means Oakland, which had to designate outfielder Andrew Brown to open space on the 40-man roster for the left-handed hitting Davis, has less money ($270,000 less) available to spend on international free agents without penalty while the Pirates have that much more.
The move came within a week of the A’s signing free agent Billy Butler to a three-year, $30 million deal, and it further crowds the field at first base. Brandon Moss, who started 2014 as the first baseman before moving to the outfield because of injuries there and the trade of Yoenis Cespedes, is available at the position, as are Stephen Vogt, Nate Freiman and Kyle Blanks in addition to Butler and now Davis.
Butler is likely to wind up as the designated hitter, but it’s not improbable that he will get more playing time at first base with Oakland than he did with Kansas City last year.
It seems unlikely the A’s would stand pat with that many first basemen, so it’s probable that one of them could be traded or another deal could be made that frees Moss to return to the outfield, his natural position.
Davis hit 32 homers for the New York Mets in 2012, but he’s fallen off from that level of production the last two seasons. The 27-year-old had just nine homers and 33 RBIs to go with a .205 average in 2013 for New York, then averaged.233 with 11 homers and 53 RBIs in 2014, splitting time between the Mets and the Pirates.
Internationally, the A’s are thought to be interested in Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, second baseman Hector Olivera, who are 24 and 26, respectively and for whom the international bonus pool financial restrictions would not count.
The trade Sunday does diminish the possibility the A’s will be going after 19-year-old second baseman/shortstop Yoan Moncada and 21-year-old second baseman Andy Ibanez. Cuban players under the age of 23 are a prime impact of the international bonus pool system.
“Thirty percent of Major League players come from outside the U.S.,’’ general manager Billy Beane said earlier this month. “I can’t say what will happen, but we’re going to look everywhere.’’
Brown, 30, was a post-season waiver claim from the Mets. He spent most of the season at Triple-A Las Vegas, hitting .283 with 21 homers and 69 RBIs.