3 Oakland Athletics players most affected by the JD Davis signing

The Oakland Athletics have signed JD Davis to a major league contract

San Francisco Giants Photo Day
San Francisco Giants Photo Day / Andy Kuno/San Francisco Giants/GettyImages

Yesterday afternoon, the Oakland Athletics signed infielder JD Davis to a major league contract worth $2.5 million, with an additional $1 million in incentives.

Last week, Davis was released by the Giants in what was widely seen as a direct attempt to cut costs. Earlier this offseason, Davis won his arbitration hearing and was awarded $6.9 million by the arbitration panel.

The Giants weren't able to find a trade partner willing to take on the roughly $7 million owed to Davis and they cut ties with him, placing him on outright waivers. Through a little known clause of the CBA, the Giants got away with paying him just over $1.1 million in termination pay.

Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic wrote an excellent column ($) about the situation, including details about the Giants' haphazard approach to the filing deadline and their treatment of Davis afterward.

After a week of speculation, Robert Murray of FanSided reported that Davis had signed a deal with the Athletics. He'll almost certainly serve as the primary third baseman for the immediate future and barring any health issues is expected to remain in the role all year.

So what does this mean for the rest of the Athletics roster?

The Athletics have had a rotating cast of players work at third base this spring, most notably Abraham Toro.

Toro was signed to a major league deal earlier this offseason and has played reasonably well this spring. He's currently hitting .367/.457/.467 with good plate discipline and serviceable defense. The main issues are that he's never been tested over the course of a full season in the majors and he hasn't been a particularly good hitter when given the opportunity.

He has a career wRC+ of 79 in nearly 950 plate appearances, meaning he's been 21% worse than league average at the plate. He doesn't hit for a ton of power or steal bases, and he's an average defender at best.

He should be much better platooning in a utility role than if the A's were relying on him for every day performance. He's clearly the player most affected by this signing, as it shifts him from a starting role to a bench piece.

Next up is Jordan Diaz. The Athletics recently sent the young infielder back to Triple-A to focus on his approach at the plate. What started as a temporary shift to the minors is now likely a death blow for his chances at the major league level in 2024.

Despite spending parts of the last two seasons in Oakland, Diaz no longer has a spot on the major league roster. Assuming Davis starts at third and Toro works in a utility role, there's little room for Diaz.

Darell Hernaiz and Nick Allen are fighting for the shortstop job and both are significantly better defenders than Diaz. And we all know that Zack Gelof is entrenched at second base. Plus, at some point Aledmys Diaz is going to return from injury, limiting roster space even further.

Unless Jordan Diaz goes on an absolute heater and forces the A's to call him up, he's going to have a tough time getting a look in Oakland this year. It's a bit unfortunate as I think he's got a bit more in the tank than what we've seen, but 2024 might be a difficult year for him.

I'm going to go a bit outside the box with this one, but the next player that comes to mind is Tyler Soderstrom. This has not been a good spring for the young catching prospect.

He's struggled mightily at the plate after a disappointing cup of coffee in the majors in 2023. He currently has a .304 OPS, which isn't even close to good enough. He's also given up multiple passed balls in his limited time behind the plate.

Maybe his spot on the opening day roster is secure, just based on the fact that he can catch and the A's will have to make an additional roster move to get one of Carlos Perez or Kyle McCann onto the 40-man.

But Soderstrom's not a great defensive catcher and his secondary position is first base. JD Davis also plays first base and Davis is a much better hitter than what we've seen from Soderstrom thus far.

If the A's decide that Soderstrom needs more time in the minors, which would be a fully defensible position, they now have a strong backup option at first base to cover his roster spot. Add in the fact that Carlos Perez is a more reliable defender and it's possible that Soderstrom starts the year in Las Vegas.

We'll wait and see how it plays out but the Davis signing is a smart one from the A's front office. It's a small amount of money for a good player, and there's no long term risk. This is a win for the A's.