June 19, 2024

Will The Giants Trade J.D. Davis?

Trade rumors regarding J.D. Davis have been prevalent throughout the offseason. The Giants were linked to Matt Chapman for nearly four months before getting a deal done last week. Now that Chapman has displaced Davis from the starting lineup, there’s again speculation about a subsequent trade.

The Giants signing Chapman doesn’t seem to have been conditional on a Davis trade, as the latter remains on the San Francisco roster five days later. Davis is probably overqualified for a bench role. He has played fairly regularly over the past five seasons between the Mets and Giants. Davis has turned in above-average offensive numbers in each of those seasons, although last year’s .248/.325/.413 slash line was his weakest since he established himself as a regular.

Mets Trade J.D. Davis, 3 Prospects to Giants for Darin Ruf - Metsmerized  Online

Davis has received some criticism for his glove. Public metrics had almost unanimously graded him as a below-average defender until last season. There was a split in his defensive grades in 2023. Defensive Runs Saved still considered him among the worst third basemen in the league, grading him 11 runs below average. Statcast, by contrast, viewed his work as four runs better than par. No one would consider Davis comparable to Chapman with the glove, but pairing average or better defense with his power potential would make him a good everyday player.

That alone doesn’t mean the Giants need to trade him. San Francisco could keep him on hand as a quality depth option for this season. It’s not an ideal roster fit. Beyond Chapman, the Giants have Wilmer Flores as a righty-hitting corner infielder and will use Jorge Soler at designated hitter.

 

While Davis would have the ability to pursue an everyday third base job in free agency next winter, he doesn’t have much recourse right now. He said over the weekend that he’s willing to do “whatever the team needs,” even as he called the signing “definitely surprising” and stated he was unaware the team was adding Chapman before it was reported publicly (comments relayed by John Shea and Shayna Rubin of the San Francisco Chronicle).

Carrying Davis in a limited role is a suboptimal outcome for the Giants. He’s making $6.9MM after winning an arbitration hearing. That’s a lot to commit for a player used sparsely off the bench. Yet even if the Giants decide they’d prefer to offload Davis’ salary, Chapman’s late signing date could complicate those efforts.

J.D. Davis' old Giants tweet goes viral after trade

A number of teams have publicly declared they’re near or at the level at which they’re willing to spend. Some clubs might view Davis as a slight upgrade over their in-house third basemen but not want to add a near-$7MM salary less than three weeks before Opening Day. Free agent spending on infielders was down all offseason and has gone particularly cold in recent weeks. Players like Tim Anderson ($5MM), Amed Rosario ($1.5MM) and Gio Urshela ($1.5MM) inked one-year pacts for salaries below what Davis will command. The Urshela contract, in particular, doesn’t point to a robust demand for third basemen.

Where will that leave the Giants? Will whatever trade interest they receive in Davis over the next few weeks be strong enough that they deem it preferable to keeping him?

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