SF Giants deserve criticism for releasing J.D. Davis in cost-cutting move

2024 San Francisco Giants Spring Training
2024 San Francisco Giants Spring Training / Zac BonDurant/San Francisco Giants/GettyImages

The SF Giants finalized a frustrating move on Monday by releasing veteran third baseman J.D. Davis, per Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area. The maneuver will save the organization about $5.8 million in a move that is just tough to justify.

SF Giants deserve criticism for releasing J.D. Davis in cost-cutting move

Earlier in the offseason, the third-party arbiter voted in Davis' favor, setting his salary for 2024 at $6.9 million. By going to arbitration, his contract was not guaranteed, so the Giants are only on the hook for a pro-rated amount. Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic reports that the pro-rated amount comes out to about $1.1 million.

The decision to release Davis puts the final touches on a frustrating offseason for the corner infield. The first was even going to arbitration in the first place. This was followed by being supplanted at third base after the Matt Chapman signing and now being released with only a fraction of the amount that he fought to earn.

The Giants did try to ship Davis off but found no takers. Perhaps, that is a sign that teams do not value the veteran bat at the $6.9 million price point, but it is a relatively low amount compared to a team's overall budget.

That said, teams are usually reluctant in adding that much payroll this late into the season. And, most teams have filled the role that Davis fills at this point. Lastly, most, if not all, teams knew that they could likely add Davis at a lower salary than $6.9 million if he is released.

The right-handed bat should have no problem landing with a team for next season. Baseball is weird with how it approaches arbitration-eligible players. It is one of the few areas where teams can shave and suppress costs. Davis will not make more than the $6.9 million he was originally scheduled to make, but when you factor in what the Giants are paying, he should come relatively close to the amount.

After all, the seven-year veteran is coming off of a quality 2023 campaign in which he registered a .248/.325/.413 line (103 OPS+) with 18 home runs, 69 RBI, and 61 runs in 480 plate appearances. The veteran infielder was previously known as a bat-first player, but he did record +5 Outs Above Average (OAA) at third base last season.

His 2.2 fWAR last year was higher than the third base position for 15 different teams. There is no doubt that he can help a team whether it is at first base, third base, or DH.

It is unfair that he was cut loose and only paid out a pro-rated amount of his 2024 salary. This is the type of move that reflects poorly on the organization. Of course, this is part of the business and there is no role for him following the Chapman signing. Those are legitimate reasons, but it still looks poorly on the organization.

At the end of the day, I just do not buy that they made an earnest effort to move Davis. Perhaps, they could have assumed some of his salary to work out a trade, which would have helped him maintain his $6.9 million salary. Davis at $6.9 million in 2024 offers surplus value and that value only improves if the Giants pitch in extra cash to get a deal done.

After all, they are paying Ross Stripling $3.25 million this upcoming season to not play for the club and they paid Tommy La Stella $10.7 million in 2023 despite the fact that they cut ties with him last offseason. Assuming a portion of Davis' contract would not have been anywhere near as frivolous as those expenditures became.

This was an opportunity for the organization to do the right thing but they pursued the cost-cutting alternative instead. The CBA enables this to occur and the Giants acted within the confines of the CBA, but was that the right thing to do? Sure, they saved some money in the process but is this worth the negative attention that has become all too commonplace with this regime?