New York Mets long-term plans with J.D. Davis beyond 2021

Jul 7, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, United States; New York Mets left fielder J.D. Davis (28) fields balls at third base during workouts at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 7, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, United States; New York Mets left fielder J.D. Davis (28) fields balls at third base during workouts at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Back in 2019, Brodie Van Wagenen ran the show for the New York Mets under the Wilpon’s ownership, making move after move, trying to excite fans. Except, one move, one that flew under the radar turned out to be one of the better moves made by Van Wagenen.

On January 6th, 2019, the New York Mets acquired infielder J.D. Davis from the Houston Astros. It was a move that sent minor leaguers Ross Adolph, Luis Santana, and Scott Manea to Houston for Davis and minor leaguer Cody Bohanek. At the time, it seemed as if Van Wagenen was simply adding depth to the team.

In reality, it was so much more. Davis has become a fan favorite during his time with New York, from walk-offs to joining Dominic Smith and SNY’s Steve Gelbs on The Cookie Club. Simply put, Davis has won over Queens.

But what about the new owner Steve Cohen? Where does he stand with Sandy Alderson? What is the future like for J.D. Davis at Citi Field? Let’s take a look at what could be the Amazins’ plans for J.D. Davis long-term.

Where Davis stands in 2021

All off-season long, rumors swirled about the New York Mets trying to acquire a complete third baseman. Meaning someone who not only can provide an impact bat, but also a defensive glove. Thus, connecting the Mets to Kris Bryant and Matt Chapman.

At least for now, the Mets elected not to make another blockbuster trade. J.D. Davis is down in Florida with the third basemen job being his to lose. On the roster, Jonathan Villar is his biggest competition for the position, despite having not played the hot corner since 2016. Additionally, both Jeff McNeil and Luis Guillorme are capable of playing third too.

Chances are that Davis will be New York’s primary third basemen in 2021, with Villar and Guillorme getting the most playtime off the bench. While both may be better defensively, neither has the pop at the plate Davis does.

What Davis is capable of

The reason why Davis has the upper hand to win the competition on the hot corner is because of his offensive ability. When acquired from Houston, he came with a .194 batting average and five home runs in 165 at-bats. Then, he became a Met.

In 2019, Davis hit for a .307 average with a .369 on-base percentage on top of 22 home runs and 57 runs batted in. Davis was an absolute monster at Citi Field, hitting 16 home runs and batting .354 at home, and became a middle lineup hitter during the final two months.

Davis flashed his impact bat potential that season, and like many other MLB players, it did not translate during the shortened 2020 season. Davis’ bat fell flat at home, hitting just .209 with two home runs. Clearly, the upside is there offensively for Davis, it is just a matter of turning back the clock to his 2019 self.

Long-term outlook with the Mets

At the moment, it is Davis’ outlook beyond this year’s trade deadline that is interesting. No matter how well he hits, his future with the team lies with his defensive ability.

To this point, J.D. Davis has been a liability in the field. He has -12 defensive runs saved in 87 total games as an outfielder, and with Dominic Smith at left field, that position is out of the question.

That is how Davis winds up at the hot corner, where he has also struggled. In 2020, he has -8 defensive runs saved in 34 total games at third, compared to -9 in 31 games during the 2019 season. Should Davis be unable to improve defensively, he will become no more than a right-handed bench bat.

As Davis is under team control through the 2024 season, he could wind up a trade deadline asset. The to-be 28-year-old could be moved to the American League, where he would be able to fill the designated hitter role, therefore keeping him out of the field.

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Of course, Mets fans and the organization would love to keep J.D. Davis around. Yet, baseball is a business. And unless he holds down the fort at third base this season, his future may not be in orange and blue…