Stay or Go: Should Mets bring J.D. Davis back for 2022 MLB season?

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J.D. Davis on base home uniform 2021 METS TREATED IMAGE
J.D. Davis on base home uniform 2021 METS TREATED IMAGE

J.D. Davis' 2021 season was derailed by a left hand injury.

The injury, which involved a torn ligament, initially kept him out of the Mets' lineup from May 2 to July 15, costing him a huge chunk of the season after he started on fire, slashing .405/.490/.619 over his first 15 games.

When Davis returned, he was not right, battling through pain in his left hand as he saw his playing time shrink.

Eventually, with the Mets out of playoff contention, Davis was placed on the IL after New York's game on Sept. 22, ending his season.

"I've always said that it kind of bothered me, and here and there it would flare up," Davis said on Oct. 3 about his hand. "It is what it is, I tried to gut it out. The team needed me, and I just tried to play games under the circumstance and sometimes I guess it doesn't come through."

Shortly after the season ended, Davis had surgery on his hand.

Speaking toward the end of the season, Davis -- who has been the subject of trade rumors for much of the last two years -- seemed to see what could be the writing on the wall as it pertains to his Mets future.

"It's kind of 50/50, kind of a flip of the coin," Davis said. "I know there's going to be plenty of changes up and down from front office down to here. But again, I've always told you it's out of my control or anything like that. But from my gut feeling, I could be out of here, that's where it's kind of leaning towards.

"There is a possibility that I could come back. I love New York, love the fans, love the city. So I don't know, it's a flip of the coin."

Jul 17, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Mets third baseman J.D. Davis (28) circles the bases after hitting a two run home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the fourth inning at PNC Park.
Jul 17, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Mets third baseman J.D. Davis (28) circles the bases after hitting a two run home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the fourth inning at PNC Park.

Davis, 28, is arbitration-eligible for the next three seasons, and is projected to earn $2.7 million in 2022.

But as the Mets enter an offseason where there could be tons of roster turnover, is Davis on his way out of Queens?

WHY IT COULD MAKE SENSE FOR DAVIS TO GO

It's hard to analyze what Davis did from July through the end of the season since he wasn't at full strength.

But when it comes to 2021 performance, it's all the Mets have to go on beyond his first 15 games of the season.

And from July 16 through the end of his season, Davis hit just .248/.352/.380 with three home runs in 58 games.

Throughout those final 58 games, Davis appeared to often be overmatched by high velocity. But again, how much of that was due to his injured hand?

Apr 27, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets third baseman J.D. Davis (28) at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 27, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets third baseman J.D. Davis (28) at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Davis struggled in 2020 as well, hitting .247/.371/.389 with six homers in 56 games during the shortened campaign.

But whether you think Davis is the hitter he was in 2020 and 2021, the hitter he was when he slugged .527 in a breakout 2019, or something in between, the main issue is that he remains a man without a position.

Davis was worth -7 DRS in 50 games at third base in 2021 after being worth -8 DRS in 34 games there in 2020. And he has been primarily a third baseman over the last two seasons after struggling badly while trying to adjust to left field.

WHY IT COULD MAKE SENSE FOR DAVIS TO STAY

For all of his defensive struggles, Davis could make sense for the Mets as part of a solution at DH -- assuming the National League adds one ahead of the 2022 season.

And with Davis projected to earn a shade under $3 million via arbitration in 2022, banking on him being the 2019 version of himself rather than the 2020 or 2021 version would be a low-risk gamble.

New York Mets left fielder J.D. Davis (28) hits a home run during the first inning against the Washington Nationals during the first inning at Citi Field.
New York Mets left fielder J.D. Davis (28) hits a home run during the first inning against the Washington Nationals during the first inning at Citi Field.

As noted above, the Mets have Davis under control through the 2024 season. So if New York keeps him and it works out, it could be a boon.

But will the Mets want to dedicate a large chunk of their DH at-bats (again, assuming there is a DH) to Davis?

And would it make sense to keep him if their plan was to use most of their DH at-bats elsewhere?

Dominic Smith and Robinson Cano could be DH options in 2022, and a couple of prospects (Mark Vientos and Brett Baty) could be options, too. Vientos, who will open at Triple-A Syracuse next season, is closer than Baty.

In a world where the Mets don't have the DH at their disposal, it's hard to see a fit for Davis.

VERDICT

The fate of Davis and pretty much every position player on the Mets' roster not named Pete Alonso or Francisco Lindor will be determined by what the new front office wants.

But unless the new team president and/or new GM sees Davis as someone who profiles as more than a DH on a team that already has multiple DH options, it's difficult to envision him staying with the Mets.

For both sides, it seems like the best idea to move on, with the Mets working to find a trade partner between now and spring training.