It's Time to Add a Spark at the Hot Corner: J.D. Davis

For a team that needs to add a bat, especially at third base, the recently-waived J.D. Davis might be just what the doctor ordered.
Sep 13, 2023; San Francisco, California, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman J.D. Davis (7) hits
Sep 13, 2023; San Francisco, California, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman J.D. Davis (7) hits / Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Through Saturday, March 9, Nick Senzel had gone 3-for-16 with seven strikeouts. On this same day, in spite of recording three hits, second baseman Luis Garcia, Jr. committed multiple blunders in the field. Joey Gallo has also been closer to a one true outcome player (and not the good kind) than the Nationals had hoped.

With all the necessary qualifiers about how it's only Spring Training and the regular season hasn't even started yet, an infield that already seemed incomplete appears on the brink of disaster.

On Saturday, the San Francisco Giants waived third baseman J.D. Davis, after recently signing former All-Star Matt Chapman to fill Davis' old role.

It is time for Mike Rizzo and the Lerners to upgrade their roster.

Let's be honest. How many hitters in the Nationals lineup do you feel particularly confident in? How many guys will likely produce at a league-average or better rate in 2024?

Better yet, how many players who factor into the discussion at designated hitter or the corner infield spots will hit at anywhere near the rate that their positions call for?

Joey Meneses might come close, but he won't provide any value defensively. Gallo and Jesse Winker have some upside, but they could easily also fall out of favor by June. Through Saturday, Gallo has just one hit in his first 15 plate appearances with eight strikeouts. And Senzel – we've discussed that already.

Enter J.D. Davis, who has hit at an above-average clip every season since becoming an established big leaguer in 2019. In fact, at times earlier in his career, he was somewhat of a "Nats Killer" while playing for the New York Mets.

Davis is not a perfect player. He's coming off a season in which he only posted a 103 OPS+ (three points better than the average hitter), and his defense leaves a bit to be desired. He's also entering a contract season in which he will be owed $6.9 million before reaching free agency next offseason.

On the other hand, his track record suggests a likely bounce-back at the plate, he registered six outs above average at third base last season, and his expiring contract makes him very tradable. This feels like Jeimer Candelario all over again, right?

Washington's go-to lineup will also be relatively dominated by left-handed hitters, especially after the signing of outfielder Eddie Rosario. The only right-handed hitters will be Lane Thomas, Meneses, Senzel (theoretically), and whomever among Victor Robles and Jacob Young wins the starting job in center field.

As I had previously projected, those are likely your second, fourth, seventh and ninth batters in the lineup. Stated differently, the first, third, fifth and sixth batters will likely not be right-handers. And that's without even mentioning everyone's favorite young left-handed slugger: James Wood, who will likely debut in the major leagues before too much of the season has passed.

To be clear, Davis' right-handedness is of less importance than his ability to hit at a position of need. Nonetheless, it would add some desirable balance.

So why not make a run at J.D. Davis?

If that isn't enough, just a week ago, I discussed how second base may no longer belong to Garcia. That appears to be increasingly accurate after his most recent gaffs.

With that said, there isn't anyone else who seems quite ready to steal Garcia's job. Maybe Trey Lipscomb can sometime soon, but he's barely seen the upper minors and hasn't played at Triple-A Rochester yet.

So what if after adding someone (i.e., J.D. Davis) to play third base, they slide Senzel to second base, where less would be asked of him at the plate? Even if it's just on a part-time basis and Senzel became a utility player off the bench, less reliance on Garcia and/or Senzel would probably be beneficial.

Should things go haywire with Gallo, Davis also has the ability to play some first base. His experience there is pretty minimal, but he's logged 33 games at the position in the last two seasons.

This seems obvious, right? It's not as if adding Davis would block any prospects, it gives them another quality bat in the lineup, and he could help incrementally boost the farm system at the trade deadline.

It's a no brainer. So will Washington make the call?