Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
J.D. Davis was a tremendous hitter for the Mets in 2019, was an integral part of a loose and fun clubhouse that was a breath of fresh air, and is under team control through 2024. But where does he fit?
The above is something Brodie Van Wagenen might have to wrestle with this offseason as he builds the team for 2020, with a focus on improving the bullpen and defense. He'll also have a hole to fill in the starting rotation if the continued dialogue with free agent Zack Wheeler is not fruitful.
When it comes to Davis, the likely scenarios Van Wagenen has laid out so far make it seem like he might be a man without a position.
There's an unknown amount of GM-speak that occurs each time Van Wagenen or any other executive talks about his or her roster and potential moves, so any situation with the Mets as far as their current roster and expected roster is fluid.
But to hear Van Wagenen talk in recent weeks, including at the GM Meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz., it doesn't seem like there will be regular playing time available for Davis in 2020 -- and an everyday player is something Van Wagenen recently said he considered Davis to be.
As far as the outfield goes, Van Wagenen has spoken of the team's desire to find a true center fielder and have Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto play in the corner outfield spots. If Van Wagenen is successful in finding that center fielder, there won't be regular room in left field for Davis. He started 71 games there in 2019.
At third base, the expectation right now is that it will belong to Jeff McNeil (who played lots of outfield last season) most days. Davis started 27 games at third base in 2019.
If the above happens, Davis would likely be on the bench most games.
Things could change, such as the Mets being unable to find a new center fielder (which could mean McNeil playing the outfield and third base being freed up for Davis). And while this is not something I'm advocating for, the Mets could also trade Conforto or Nimmo, which could free up left field for Davis.
But Van Wagenen seems intent on finding a center fielder, and spoke recently about it being highly unlikely Conforto will be traded.
There's also the issue of Davis' defense, which was admirable but well below average in left field in 2019, and rendered him close to unplayable at third base.
If the Mets are comfortable playing Davis in left field, maybe finding a new center fielder, trading Nimmo and keeping Davis makes sense. If the Mets believe Davis can improve at third base to the point where he would be playable there, maybe it makes sense to forget about improving the defense in center field, use Nimmo there, put McNeil in left field, and hand Davis the reigns at third base.
But again, to hear Van Wagenen speak, it just doesn't seem to be the way he's leaning. And that brings us back to the question of what to do with Davis.
If he isn't in their long-term plans, the Mets could attempt to trade Davis this offseason (perhaps to an American League team who can use him to DH) to fill a hole in the starting rotation, the bullpen, in center field, or even in an effort to restock the farm system.
The precise value of Davis is unknown, but the fact that he is making relatively little and is under team control through the 2024 season should make him a very attractive player.
The Mets could also simply hang on to Davis for now with the expectation that he'll be a very valuable bat off the bench who can start against left-handers, and someone who can play regularly in the event of an injury to a key player.
No matter what the Mets decide, they don't have to rush the decision -- not with so much about their 2020 roster still unknown and not with Davis under team control for the next five seasons.
What can't be argued is that Davis should be viewed as a very high-ceiling offensive player who should continue to provide substantial value to whoever he plays for. But where he'll be playing in 2020 and beyond is something that could be up in the air.