New York Mets must trade J.D. Davis this offseason
By Leen Amin
The New York Mets need to trade J.D. Davis this winter to upgrade where they need help most and while his value is still there.
New York Mets third baseman/outfielder J.D. Davis has become a fan-favorite since arriving in Flushing prior to the 2019 season. He commenced his career with the Houston Astros, where he was unable to do much, but turned it all around upon joining the Mets.
Davis was electric in his first season in New York. Not only did he bring great energy every game and was fun to watch, but he also grew to become one of the best and most important hitters in the lineup.
In 140 games in 2019, Davis slashed .307/.369/.527 with an OPS of .895, OPS+ of 137, .355 BABIP, .373 wOBA, 136 wRC+, and 2.4 WAR, while hitting 22 home runs and recording 57 RBI.
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Unfortunately, Davis was unable to duplicate these numbers in the shortened 2020 season, slashing just .247/.371/.389 with a .783 OPS, 112 OPS+, .318 BABIP, .339 wOBA, 108 wRC+, and 0.5 WAR, while hitting six home runs and recording 19 RBI.
Davis certainly would like to have the opportunity to redeem himself next year, and fans would love that for him, but the most realistic and beneficial option for the Mets with regard to J.D. Davis is to trade him.
The primary reason for doing so would be the fact that the Mets have just too many good players and there really isn’t any room for him. Davis, as of now, is capable of playing three positions: first base (which he has not played since becoming a Met), third base (his natural position), and left field.
First base is out of the question because the Mets already have not one but two star first basemen in Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith.
He spent most of the 2020 season at third base, where he wasn’t good. In 269.1 innings played at third, he recorded a -8 DRS and -0.3 UZR. In 52 innings spent in left, he had a -1 DRS and -1.9 UZR.
His numbers in left aren’t awful but it’s important to note that this is a small sample size. He spent most of the 2019 season in left field and recorded a -11 DRS and -4.7 UZR, both of which are pretty bad.
No matter where he plays in the field, he’s a defensive liability, and that’s a problem for a bad defensive team such as the Mets.
Whether the team wants to put Davis in the infield or outfield, there’s going to be a problem.
Smith can play first but can also play in right and left, so he takes up a spot and is hard to move out of the lineup if he’s hitting and defending better than Davis, as was the case this past season.
Jeff McNeil, another guy who never gets benched and is a core piece of the lineup, can play second, third, left and right.
To make a crowded infield even more so, the Mets called up prospect Andrés Giménez, who impressed greatly in 2020 and has likely earned a permanent spot on this team and can play at second, third, and shortstop very well.
Even utility man Luis Guillorme swung the bat quite well last season and is a good defender.
So even if the Mets decide to give, say, second baseman Robinson Cano or shortstop Amed Rosario a break, there are plenty of more than capable players to take over for them, especially with the DH.
There is, however, a chance the DH doesn’t stick around in the 2021 season, and that would hurt Davis even more.
In the outfield, the Mets have excellent players in Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo, as well as several other infielders who are capable of playing the outfield. The Mets might also prioritize acquiring a proper center fielder, and that’s another factor that would jeopardize Davis’ role on the team.
Davis is 27 years old, is under team control through the 2024 season, and is still very valuable. The Mets would be able to get a good return for him now, and there’s a strong chance his value only continues to decrease.
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The smartest move for the Mets, if they don’t trade players like Smith or Nimmo during the offseason, would be to trade Davis. There’s realistically no longer room for him and while it will be sad to see him go, it’s something that probably must be done.