J.D. Davis and the Mets’ roster flexibility

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.

22 comments for “J.D. Davis and the Mets’ roster flexibility

  1. NYM6986
    July 10, 2019 at 10:05 am

    Would like to see the older and expiring contracts moved and agree that Davis should take up residence at 3B unless McNeil is stronger their and Davis
    moves to the OF. Davis has been a good pickup and it’s time to see what he can do with more playing time after
    the July 31 trade deadline. We need
    to not cling to the thought that we are on the edge of competing and move some pieces now. Wheeler is an easy one who has even expressed an interest in coming back as a FA. Thor might bring the real haul toward rebuilding since he is under control for some years to come.

    • Peter Hyatt
      July 10, 2019 at 12:22 pm

      Davis at 3B and McNeil at 2B.

  2. Mike Walczak
    July 10, 2019 at 10:54 am

    Davis was an excellent pickup. If given a chance, at best, he can be a starter. Worst case, he is a valuable utility player with good pop. If you are behind by 2 runs with two men on base in the ninth innning, would you rather have Davis or Hech pinch hit?

    He is a valuable piece for the total roster. We have a lot of bad pieces and need to add more valuable pieces, one by one and whenever they can be acquired.

    There have been rumblings about Syndergaard and even deGrom. I don’t think BVW trades either one. They need a strong top of the rotation punch. Syndergaard may be worth more in the office season if he rebounds in the second half. That being said, if the suitors come calling and open the checkbook and the bidding goes up, then it may be appropriate to trade him.

    Watch out for a surprise from the Astros for Syndergaard. Cole is a free agent after this season.

    It sure did hurt to watch Grandal catch in the all star game last night, when we have the immobile Ramos behind the plate.

    • Chris B
      July 10, 2019 at 3:12 pm

      Agreed on all points Mike. Especially the valuable pieces part. Having Davis as the 4th OF/Utility guy would make him one of the best in the league in that role and give the Mets a leg up on their competition in playoffs. Now it’s time to fill in the rest of the roster.

  3. NYM6986
    July 10, 2019 at 6:04 pm

    Seems we get more for any player under contract after the season since contenders can move more substantial players versus trying to add now, keep their strength, and make the playoffs. So I say we move Wheeler now and move Thor and Ramos after the season. We need a revamped bullpen. Maybe if we eat salary someone else will take a shot at Familia or for god’s sake find a pitching coach to turn these arms around. At his age you simply don’t forget how to pitch.

    • Chris F
      July 10, 2019 at 7:28 pm

      Theres no chance you could even get a team to waste a 25 man roster spot for Familia as is. I think he was way over rated, and very much unhappy he was re-signed here, esp at the preposterous contract he got. He not *this* bad most likely, but its a long rehab road for him to have any value. Back to mop up innings and then work his way back up. Its a crime financially.

      • Metsense
        July 11, 2019 at 9:51 pm

        Familia in 2018, according to Fangraphs, had a 3.13 ERA, 2.65 FIP, 1.9 WAR. The WAR ranked #9 tied for MLB relievers. BTW, the MLB average for relief pitchers in 2018 was 4.08 ERA and the FIP 4.06. The statistics prove that it was a good signing. In 2019 he is injured and his production has suffered. In 2018 he was healthy and had a good year.

        • Chris F
          July 11, 2019 at 11:40 pm

          Hes a high WHIP guy constantly living in danger reliever. Being that means hes on the bubble with everything from location to runners scoring…all it took was a little decline and the bubble popped. He was last good in 2015. The signing was a terrible mistake. And now he has no value. Not worth 50% of his contract. I cheered when he was traded last year. Now were saddled with a 30m$ bench warmer, all of which was plainly obvious. Sorry Metsense, Familia sucks, plain and simple.

          • Metsense
            July 12, 2019 at 7:52 am

            Fact Check “He was last good in 2015.”
            2015 43 saves with 5 blown saves, 1.00 WHIP. 1.5 fWAR
            2016 51 saves with 5 blown saves, 1.21 WHIP 2.0 fWAR
            2017 injured and suspended for domestic violence
            2018 18 saves/7 holds with 6 blown saves, 1.22 WHIP, 1.9 fWAR

            In 2016 and 2018 Familia’s fWAR was better than his 2015 season. His saves went up in 2016 and his WHIP has been consistent since 2016.In perspective the MLB average for relievers in 2016 was 1.32 WHIP and in 2018 was 1.33 WHIP. Saves, holds, blown saves, FIP, ERA and WAR along with WHIP (and other statistics) all make up the quality of a reliever and in no way has Familia “sucked” since 2015.

            • Chris F
              July 12, 2019 at 9:52 pm

              you keep Familia on your team…I cant wait to bat.

              Hes a high WHIP reliever…closer…always threading the needle. I want my closer with a 1 or less WHIP. Now that hes older, lost some special sauce the danger zone is now the disaster zone.

              Id DFA him with Cano and Lagares and just eat the contracts. Zero value.

  4. Eraff
    July 10, 2019 at 8:31 pm

    They are on the Verge of competing. They should re-sign Wheeler…Rebalance the OF with a “starting RH Bat”—that’s an offseason trade. Count the Willing and Able and rebuild a bullpen. Sell fringes now, and gather some talent and depth. Spend some Christmas Money for 2020

    If you believe that Familia, Diaz and the rest are lost causes, then you sell to the walls… that would include everyone except Alonzo.

    • Chris B
      July 10, 2019 at 9:06 pm

      I think you’d be hard pressed to convince people that the Mets are on the verge of competing.

      Re: the bullpen I’m of the view that it can only be built organically. It can’t be bought and probably shouldn’t be done through a trade. Relievers should be former high level pitching prospects or specialists who are developed early on through the minor league system.

      Not guys who just stumble into the role a la Lugo and Gsellman.

    • Chris F
      July 10, 2019 at 10:19 pm

      Every year we are a RHB and a power arm in the pen away. We have Alonso. We have Diaz. We had the dream rotation…we also got 77 wins.

      This team is miles from competititve. You need a string 40 man roster, and this team cant even deliver 20.

    • TexasGusCC
      July 10, 2019 at 11:10 pm

      Eraff, I agree completely. Further, I’m thinking with a real manager (Girardi?), one who won’t insist on BVW’s pet always hitting third, one who can see when pitchers are laboring, one that can teach Rosario how to focus, one that can be more of a leader to the team instead of a bystander, and lastly, one that can bring in good teachers for this team, like Tony Pena, there are piers to build on.

      Ruben Amaro was the best thing that happened to this coaching staff, but the rest of them are barely worth their paycheck. Last year, Amaro was doing baserunning drills on the road, teaching outfielders how to position according to the pitch, and a good first base coach that would look at the pitcher with the runner and explain; Sherlock isn’t like that. Amaro may have doubled down a bit excessively in Philadelphia on veterans, but he impressed me as a baseball guy. He’s like Snitka in Atlanta, and if the Mets don’t get Girardi, I’d like Amaro to take the position, but I don’t know if he’d give up his Front Office cush job to ride planes and deal with throngs of reporters.

      • Chris F
        July 11, 2019 at 8:46 am

        Remember his knickname in Philly Gus:

        Ruin Tomorrow Jr.

        The Yankees were happy to be rid of Girardi. Let’s not pretend he some sort of automatic 10 game improvement.

        • TexasGusCC
          July 11, 2019 at 10:00 am

          Chris, Girardi had a winning record even in the years they were rebuilding! Further, Cashman got rid of him because it was a power struggle. Cashman wasn’t being recognized and once he got a new contract, he was able to not renew Girardi’s. Don’t forget, Girardi was never fired, but the quarrel was because he continued to sit Sanchez because he didn’t like Sanchez’ defense. Cashman wanted Sanchez playing no matter what.

          I understand both sides, Girardi wants to run his team his way, Cashman wants talented kids playing, and although I would side with Cashman on this matter, I can’t dismiss years of success nor can I dismiss taking over a crappy Marlins team and winning 84 games his one year there, either.

          • Chris F
            July 11, 2019 at 11:24 am

            Sure, and if they hired Girardi, it would represent a big improvement. He also lost the clubhouse. He has a super prickly relationship with the media (not sure I care, but…it is NY). So you have FO-dugout issues and dugout-clubhouse issues. Maybe his intensity would be something the team needs. Quite frankly, while MLB managing jobs are scarce as hens teeth, any quality skipper with experience that would really *want* the Mets should be on the table. This team is locked in a nightmarish state.

            Would ownership bite on a Yankee?

            • TexasGusCC
              July 11, 2019 at 12:27 pm

              Well, they have already asked around about him. But, I don’t think a new manager is enough. But, it’s a start.

  5. NYM6986
    July 10, 2019 at 9:26 pm

    Agree. I thought after the off-season acquisitions that we would be a competitive team. It seemed that how the bullpen was re-shaped that we would have a great continuation from a six inning starting pitcher to get to Lugo, Familia and Diaz to close it out. Our bats have not disappointed overall but our pen has stunk. Keep the kids, dump the expiring contracts and trade the under contract players in the offseason. If our pen was adequate we would be in the mix. It’s not and we need to sell sell sell and reload. Big test coming up for BVW.

  6. TJ
    July 10, 2019 at 10:40 pm

    So when the Mets acquired Davis, I saw some commentary that he could throw in the 90s and per b ref he has a career era of 3.38 and whp of 1.12. I say we give him the 8th inning, what the heck. Maybe our blind squirrel gm got a real gem, by accident.

    When I look at the Braves currently and then look at what is in their pipeline, it is very hard to make a case that the Mets can compete for the NL East in 2020 or 2021. Keep Alonso, McNeil, and deGrom, and listen on all others. Wheeler and Frazier have to be dealt as the Mets could re-sign either at sesaon end if they wanted them in 2020.

  7. Peter Hyatt
    July 11, 2019 at 7:13 am

    Imagine a line up based upon merit.
    Imagine a manager who refuses to be dictated to by an agent-GM regarding the on field decisions.

  8. Metsense
    July 11, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    Agreed Mike,” given a chance, at best, he can be a starter. Worst case, he is a valuable utility player with good pop.” BVW has to traded Frazier before the deadline just with give JD the opportunity at third base.Frazier offensively has an .783 OPS and Davis a .809 OPS. That OPS ranks him 11th among NL third baseman. He must improved offensively and maybe he will with increased playing time. Davis and Frazier have at similar UZR of -1.7 but Frazier has a +1 DRS and Davis needs to improve his unacceptable -9 DRS. To be a contending team your third baseman needs to have be better offensive and defensive numbers than Davis’ present numbers. The Mets don’t have anything to lose by giving JD a chance.

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