One of Brodie Van Wagenen’s more successful offseason acquisitions is J.D. Davis, who has hit to the tune of a .806 OPS over his fair share of time between left field and third base. The Mets sent outfielder Ross Adolph, infielder Luis Santana and catcher Scott Manea to the Houston Astros for Davis in January and the early returns have fared well for the home team. None of the departed low level prospects have shown any particular promise for the Astros, while Davis has proven to be a ‘plus’ major league caliber hitter who is able to play multiple positions. These days it seems as though the Mets are sacrificing both offense and defense with Wilson Ramos, Robinson Cano and Amed Rosario part of the everyday roster equation. A player like Davis offers valuable roster flexibility and should be assessed accordingly with regards to the future of the club.
Davis is under team control through 2023 which will primarily be his arbitration years; he is also out of minor league options which is an important factor. Over his first half of the 2019 season, J.D. Davis is slashing .279/.341/.468 with 220 plate appearances. Most notably amongst his splits is his success against both right and left handed pitchers, with the former being Davis’ strong suit. Davis also hits better at home with a 1.048 OPS compared to .618 on the road.
It’s worth noting that there is a lot to be desired on the defensive side of Davis’ game. By UZR standards, he rates at -1.6 in the outfield and -1.8 at third base. However, as mentioned earlier, Davis at least offers value with is bat and defensive flexibility whereas other players are poor in all three areas. With this in mind and in the interest of looking ahead to more fruitful seasons, J.D. Davis should easily be penciled in as at least a utility bench filler and pinch-hitter with a ceiling of everyday starting third baseman. At this very point in time, the future of starting major league baseball games does not look bright for Yoenis Cespedes, which leaves an outfield position available for Jeff McNeil and J.D. Davis. Todd Frazier is in the final year of his contract and with limited minor league talent at the third base position it should open up the role for Davis and McNeil to fill as well.
The Mets should look to move Frazier at the deadline to open up more time for the 26 year old right handed Davis. With the farm system lacking upper level success, Davis should be viewed as an injection of young talent to the club in the same vein as McNeil and Pete Alonso. His average exit velocity of 91.1 mph on the season ranks in the same vicinity as players such as Mike Trout, Francisco Lindor and Justin Turner (and is above Alonso’s mark). While not of the same offensive pedigree, Davis will still be a net positive player for years to come.