The New York Mets added many high-profile names to their roster during the offseason, bringing reinforcements to virtually every position in the diamond.
They didn’t, however, upgrade the third base position.
JD Davis played 34 games at the position in 2020 and is expected to see most of his time there in 2021.
The thing is that Davis is quite bad with the glove and, in addition, had a down 2020 from the batter’s box as well.
Last year, Davis slashed .247/.371/.389 with six homers and a 116 weighted Runs Created, or wRC+, which is down from the .307/.369/.527 and a 136 he had in 2019.
Defensively, he is lousy, with -5 Outs Above Average both in 2019 and 2020.
Other defensive metrics, like Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) and Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) also dislike Davis.
So, did the Mets make the right choice in going with Davis at the top of the third base depth chart?
Acting general manager Zack Scott recently said he likes the roster as it is, but the Mets could still have time to go after Cubs’ third baseman Kris Bryant, a former MVP that Chicago is reportedly shopping.
"We're fully comfortable with going into the season with JD Davis playing an important role on our club"
– Zack Scott on the Mets' comfort level with JD Davis at third base pic.twitter.com/AeEXdgTPaI
— SNY (@SNYtv) February 12, 2021
Should the Mets go after Bryant before the start of the season?
The Mets Don’t Need Bryant
While Kris Bryant can certainly make the Mets better, they don’t necessarily need him to contend.
Besides, Bryant would require another significant haul in terms of prospects, and the Mets’ farm isn’t exactly the deepest right now after trading for Lindor and Carrasco.
According to reports, the Cubs may have asked the Mets for young catcher prospect Francisco Alvarez, but New York refuses to part with him and they might be right to do so.
There's been dialogue between the Mets and Cubs recently about Kris Bryant. The Cubs really like catcher Francisco Alvarez, one of the Mets' top prospects. Sandy Alderson indicated yesterday he isn't trading top prospects.
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) January 8, 2021
Sure, Bryant is a vastly superior defensive third baseman than Davis, but at this point, the offensive upgrade may not be much, if at all.
Despite Davis’ struggles with the bat, his performance in 2019 over a much larger sample (140 compared to 56 last year) warrants attention.
Bryant slumped all the way to a .206/.293/.351 line in 2020, with a paltry .644 OPS (On Base Plus Slugging.)
Like Davis, he was much better in 2019, with a .282/.382/.521 slash and 31 homers.
Bryant, when right, can be a difference-maker at third base, but for a potentially steep price and only one year of team control left, does it make sense for the Mets to give up valuable assets for him to potentially lose him after the season?
Potential Solutions For The Mets
Again, if the Mets were to go after Bryant, and if the price is right, he could make a difference.
However, it’s not entirely necessary.
Underlying stats, most notably a high hard-hit rate of 45.2, and a sky-high walk rate of 13.5%, suggest that a bounceback season by Davis is likely.
In addition, the Mets have other options if they want to hide his glove.
They can play Villar at second base and slide Jeff McNeil to third, a position he is familiar with.
In fact, they can play Villar himself at the hot corner, as he is a passable shortstop and second baseman.
If the Mets want a glove-first third baseman, Luis Guillorme is ready to go, as well.
All in all, the New York Mets could entertain the possibility of a Kris Bryant trade, but they can get by with what they have in the organization.