Who is J. D. Davis, Yankees’ replacement for injured Stanton?

The New York Yankees signed J. D. Davis on June 23, 2024.
thenewyorkclub
Sara Molnick
Monday June 24, 2024

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The New York Yankees have bolstered their lineup by acquiring J.D. Davis from the Oakland Athletics. In exchange, the Yankees sent minor league infielder Jordan Groshans and cash considerations to Oakland. This trade, finalized on June 23, 2024, addresses the Yankees’ need for offensive depth following injuries to first baseman Anthony Rizzo and outfielder Giancarlo Stanton.

Davis, a 31-year-old right-handed hitter, brings valuable major league experience from stints with the Houston Astros, New York Mets, and San Francisco Giants. His arrival is well-timed as the Yankees gear up for the Subway Series against the Mets, the player’s former team from 2019 to 2022.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone indicated that Davis is expected to join the team on Tuesday at Citi Field. He is likely to share first-base duties with rookie Ben Rice and contribute as a designated hitter. Boone noted Davis’ proficiency against left-handed pitching, saying, “We’ll get him in there against left-handed pitching. He’s hit left-handed pitching well over the last couple of years.”

Davis’ power-hitting capability, evidenced by his 22 home runs with the Mets in 2019 and 18 with the Giants last season, could significantly enhance the Yankees’ lineup. His addition aims to mitigate the impact of injuries and provide a much-needed offensive spark.

Who is J. D. Davis?

The New York Yankees signed J. D. Davis on June 23, 2024.
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Davis’ baseball career began with a pivotal decision in 2011. Drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the fifth round, he chose instead to hone his skills at California State University, Fullerton. From 2012 to 2014, he played for the Cal State Fullerton Titans, excelling as a right fielder, first baseman, and closer.

During the summer of 2012, Davis showcased his dual talents with the Wisconsin Woodchucks in the Northwest League. His impressive performance at the plate and on the mound earned him summer All-American honors as a utility player from Perfect Game.

In his sophomore year, Davis continued to stand out, ranking among the Big West Conference leaders in RBIs and walks. His efforts garnered him spots on the Fullerton All-Regional Team and the Big West Conference First Team.

The Houston Astros took notice and selected Davis in the third round of the 2014 MLB draft after his junior season. He quickly impressed in the minors, earning a promotion to Single-A and finishing the season with strong batting statistics, which led to a MiLB Organization All-Star nod.

By 2016, Davis was making waves with the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks, leading the Texas League in doubles and showcasing significant power. His standout performance earned him mid-season All-Star honors and another MiLB Organization All-Star selection.

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His rapid climb through the Astros’ farm system continued in July 2017 with a promotion to the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies. In just 16 games, his remarkable offensive output secured his third consecutive MiLB Organization All-Star recognition.

Davis made his major league debut with the Houston Astros on August 5, 2017. In his first 25 games, he recorded a .226/.279/.484 batting line with four home runs and seven RBIs, contributing to the Astros’ World Series-winning season. Although the player didn’t play in the postseason, he was part of the 40-man roster and received a championship ring.

In 2018, Davis started the season on the Astros’ Opening Day roster but struggled offensively, hitting .175/.248/.223 with one home run in 103 at-bats.

On January 6, 2019, he was traded to the New York Mets. He found his stride, earning an MLB Play of the Week award on August 26, 2019, for an impressive over-the-shoulder catch. Davis finished the 2019 season with career-best numbers, hitting .307/.369/.527 with 22 home runs and 57 RBIs in 140 games. During the shortened 2020 season, he played in 56 games, posting a .247/.371/.389 line with six home runs and 19 RBIs.

In 2021, Davis faced significant injury setbacks, including a left-hand sprain that required surgery, landing him on the 60-day injured list. In 2022, limited to 181 at-bats with the Mets, he hit .238/.324/.359 with four home runs and 21 RBIs before being traded.

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On August 2, 2022, Davis was traded to the San Francisco Giants, where he improved, batting .263/.361/.496 with eight home runs and 14 RBIs in 137 at-bats. He displayed versatility by playing multiple positions.

In 2022, Davis ranked third in the majors in hard-hit percentage, trailing only Aaron Judge and Yordan Alvarez. He also ranked in the top 5% of MLB in barrel percentage and average exit velocity, highlighting his power-hitting capabilities.

In 2023, he enjoyed a solid season with the San Francisco Giants, appearing in 144 games and achieving a .248/.325/.413 batting line. He hit 18 home runs and set a career-high with 69 RBIs.

The Giants released Davis on March 11, 2024, making him a free agent. Due to an arbitrator-imposed contract, the Giants were only liable for $1.1 million of his salary. Shortly thereafter, he inked a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Oakland Athletics on March 16.

During his brief tenure with the A’s, Davis struggled offensively, managing a .232 average with four home runs and five RBIs in 135 plate appearances before being designated for assignment on June 18.

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In response to their injury-depleted lineup, the New York Yankees acquired him. Manager Aaron Boone expressed optimism that Davis could invigorate the team, especially against left-handed pitching, an area where he has excelled in recent years.

Throughout his eight-season MLB career with Houston, the New York Mets, San Francisco, and Oakland, the player has maintained a .273 average with 119 home runs and 386 RBIs. His career OPS-plus of 112 over 633 games indicates above-average offensive production.

Boone plans to deploy Davis at first base and as a designated hitter, with potential appearances at third base. The manager highlighted his versatility, which provides the team with strategic roster options.

This acquisition offers the Yankees an opportunity to address their corner infield needs early, ahead of the trade deadline, allowing them to assess Davis’ potential impact on the team.

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