The Mets have made slugging corner infielder/outfielder J.D. Davis available in trades, reports ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel. As was rumored throughout the offseason, McDaniel notes that some execs have speculated the Mets could be hoping to include Davis as part of a package to acquire a prominent name such as Kris Bryant or Trevor Story. Nothing involving Davis is close at this time, he adds.
That Davis’ name has again surfaced in rumors only feels natural, given how prominently he was cited in offseason rumblings. The 28-year-old has been an oft-cited trade possibility despite being a vastly above-average hitter during his time with the Mets — in part due to questions about his glovework. Davis’ defense was put under a microscope early this year, in particular, when he made three errors at third base in a span of two games. He’s missed most of the season since that time, owing to a finger injury, but he hasn’t made an error since that time — a span of 18 games and 26 chances at the hot corner.
That’s not to say concerns about Davis’ glove are without merit. He’s spent 944 career innings at third base and posted -21 Defensive Runs Saved, a -4.0 Ultimate Zone Rating and -10 Outs Above Average. It’s not a great profile, and the Mets have also tried Davis in left field. His former club, the Astros, gave him some brief looks at first base, too.
Setting the defensive question marks aside, though, the draw of Davis is very clearly his bat — and with good reason. He’s absolutely raked in 89 plate appearances this season, hitting .325/.416/.545 with four long balls and five doubles. That’s not just a total small-sample fluke, either; since being traded to the Mets, Davis has produced .292/.375/.490 batting line with 32 home runs and 36 doubles in just 771 plate appearances. He’s been 33 percent better than a league-average hitter, by measure of wRC+. That’s borderline star-level production at the plate, as that 133 wRC+ places him right alongside the likes of Rafael Devers, Jesse Winker, Trea Turner, Cody Bellinger and teammate Pete Alonso since the start of the 2019 season. Davis, quite simply, can mash.
Beyond his talent at the plate, Davis offers a long-term option for interested trade partners. He’s earning $2.1MM in 2021 as a first-time arbitration player. Davis reached arbitration a year early as a Super Two player, meaning he’s controllable for three more years beyond the current season. He can be expected to put up some strong counting numbers moving forward, which ought to make his subsequent arbitration raises notable, but this year’s missed time on the injured list will suppress his 2022 salary a bit, at the very least.
There’s no pressure for the Mets to move Davis, given that remaining control. In fact, with most expecting the universal designated hitter to come to the National League in 2022, one could argue that Davis’ value will only go up for the Mets (although the also have both Dominic Smith and Alonso, so they certainly have first base/DH options elsewhere on the roster). As was the case in the offseason, it seems likelier that the win-now Mets would move Davis in a deal to bring back MLB talent rather than prospects.