After the New York Mets traded most of their shortstop depth in the deal that brought Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to the Big Apple, the most likely scenario has them using Jeff McNeil at second base and JD Davis at the hot corner.
Defensively, it may not be an ideal solution. Davis had -8 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) at third base in 2020, and accumulates -19 there in 770 career innings at the position. Other metrics support the thesis that he just isn’t a good player with the glove.
However, the Mets may want to keep his bat in the lineup. Even after a somewhat inconsistent 2020 that saw him slash .247/.371/.389 with a 116 wRC+, it’s important to remember that Davis slashed .307/.369/.527 with a .373 wOBA, 22 home runs, and a 136 wRC+ in 2019. He was one of the Mets’ best performers two years ago.
If he doesn’t improve, at least modestly, with the glove, he may have a hard time securing regular playing time, especially if the Mets can’t use the designated hitter spot (still in discussion.) However, if he bats like 2019 and not like 2020, manager Luis Rojas will be forced to find him at-bats.
The Mets want to see him bounce back
For now, he is ticketed for the arbitration process, as he and the New York Mets couldn’t agree on a contract. He requested $2.475 million and was offered $2.1 million by the Mets when arbitration figures were exchanged.
Barring additional signings, the Mets will enter 2021 with Davis as their starting third baseman. His defensive development will surely be one of the hottest spring training storylines, but it will be his bat that will dictate how many plate appearances he’ll enjoy in 2021.
The potential for a bounceback is there. Even in his “poor” 2020, Statcast loves Davis, as he was in the 71st percentile in average exit velocity; 80th percentile in hard-hit rate; and 78th percentile in expected wOBA. He hit the ball hard, and had some bad luck. The 2021 campaign, for him, will be about proving that his 2019 was no fluke.