Should the Toronto Blue Jays be interested in free agent J.D. Davis?

Photo credit:Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Snodgrass
1 month ago
Earlier this week, the San Francisco Giants released corner infielder J.D. Davis after adding Matt Chapman to their 40-man roster. Davis had been the team’s primary third baseman but lost his spot when Chapman was brought on board.
Given the Blue Jays’ need for an everyday third baseman after Chapman’s departure, Davis has been linked to Toronto as a possible fit now that he’s a free agent. While the Blue Jays have many options to play some third base throughout the 2024 season, Davis’ bat might be an upgrade.
The Blue Jays’ biggest additions this winter for position players were Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Justin Turner, who can both play third. Also in the mix at the hot corner are the well-known platoon of Cavan Biggio and Santiago Espinal along with Ernie Clement, who seems to have grabbed a job on the 26-man roster with his excellent spring training play.
Clement is on the 40-man roster but is out of options. Given how well he’s played, it seems very likely that another team would claim Clement if the Blue Jays tried to send him down to Triple-A Buffalo, so his spot looks all but guaranteed.
In terms of position players, the locks for Toronto’s roster, barring injury, are George Springer, Kevin Kiermaier, Daulton Varsho, Justin Turner, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Alejandro Kirk, Danny Jansen, Davis Schneider, Biggio, Kiner-Falefa, and Clement. That leaves one more spot open for Espinal, Nathan Lukes, Daniel Vogelbach, Spencer Horwitz, and the newly signed Joey Votto.
There isn’t a lot of room to add another player such as Davis, as the Blue Jays already have a handful of similar players on their roster. It would be ideal for the team to carry an extra outfielder on their 26-man roster so they don’t have to rely as heavily on Biggio or Schneider in that spot. 
But if a potential upgrade comes along, we would be remiss not to at least think about it. And with Davis available, should the Blue Jays scoop him up? 

Who is J.D. Davis?

It was a mixed season for the soon-to-be 31-year-old. The positive is that he hit 18 home runs (the second-highest total of his career) over 546 plate appearances and managed to stay healthy the whole year. But he finished the season with an OPS of .738, the lowest of his last three seasons, and he struck out a career-high 152 times. 
He had an awful July and August. In this time, Davis posted a wRC+ of 58, while slashing .192/.255/.317.  However was pretty productive outside of that posting a slashline of .282/.362/.456 between March and the end of June. Not to mention his wRC+ of 134 in September. It could stand to reason Davis could have a bounce-back offensively since he did it for over half the season. While he does draw walks, his K% can fluctuate which can be a problem.  He had one of the lowest launch angles of his career (7.8), inducing a lot of groundballs with above-average exit velocity.
Davis is known mostly for his bat, though he’s offered a passable glove at the corners in the past. While his 2023 OAA is in the 90th percentile and he has good arm strength at third, his Defensive Runs Saved was a putrid -11 in over 900 innings at the hot corner. Even looking at past seasons, it’s unlikely Davis would be anywhere close to as good defensively as IKF, or even Clement or Biggio. He never had a reputation as an elite defender, but he is solid enough, both offensively and defensive, that if played consistently, could reach his projected fWAR of 1.2, again if he’s getting 350 PA, which seems unlikely with the Blue Jays. 
What makes Davis attractive is his low price point. The Giants waived him after signing Matt Chapman, effectively losing his spot on the roster. He passed through waivers, therefore, every team had a chance to claim him, but now they have the opportunity to sign him for cheaper. He was slated to make $6.9 million this season but is now a free agent. 

Would he be a fit for the Blue Jays?

Is J.D Davis a serviceable Major Leaguer? Yes, I would say so. However, is he the right fit for the Blue Jays? That will depend on depth production, as offence figures to be this year’s biggest question mark. To this point, he’s had an amazing spring hitting the crap out of the ball, he will get a chance somewhere, but will it be with the Jays? It’s possible. But Toronto would probably have to make a corresponding move.  
The 26-man roster is already quite full of useful impact players, so it would be difficult to justify removing Biggio or Clement for Davis when the two are more versatile, which impacts the Jays’ roster more than an average starting 3B. Davis can’t be played around the infield like they can and would stifle defensive versatility. One would also think that adding Davis would affect IKF’s at-bats significantly, which seems counter-productive for many reasons. One of those is that he is having a good spring offensively. 
A major league team can only carry 26 players, and with the roster currently constructed, there’s no real room to add without subtraction. 
In the end, it would be nice to have a full-time 3B and not have to worry about the position too much.  However, the Jays have already decided to use that position by committee, and it would be very awkward to try and make it fit, although not impossible. So, with that, I will leave it up to the reader. Would you sign Davis? Let me know in the comments below!


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