NEW YORK -- The precedent that Shohei Ohtani set this season, starring for the Angels both on the mound and at the plate, appears to be becoming a trend. Two years ago, the Rays drafted college star Brendan McKay fourth overall with the intent of making him a two-way player. More and more, Major League teams are seeking skill sets of that ilk.
The Mets and J.D. Davis may not be prepared to enter those ranks quite yet, but they're at least entertaining the idea. Since acquiring him in a five-player trade on Jan. 6, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has twice mentioned Davis' pitching ability as a factor going forward. The Mets won't enter Spring Training with a concrete plan to have him throw bullpen sessions or work as a pitcher, according to club officials, but they will gauge the situation after putting eyes on him for the first time in February.
If they ultimately decide to try Davis on the mound, he's all for it.
"I feel like the game is changing in a way where two-way guys are emerging," he said last week in a telephone interview. "Ohtani opened that door. I think it was already cracked open, but he blew it open with what he brought to the table. It opened some eyes to the league and the value of a player who can do both."
Despite his 92-mph fastball, Davis sees himself as a hitter first, and the Mets agree. They traded three prospects for him because they were enamored with the 25-year-old's right-handed power, which they envision as a replacement for that of longtime bench bat Wilmer Flores. In 85 games last year at Triple-A Fresno, Davis batted .342 with 17 homers, 25 doubles and a .988 OPS. While he hit just .175 with one home run in 42 Major League games last season, he sees that as a product of inconsistent playing time, blocked in Houston by superstar Alex Bregman.
In New York, Davis adds depth at third base behind Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie, and he'll serve as an option at first should the Mets decide to start Peter Alonso in the Minors. He is also capable of playing at both corner outfield spots, where his arm can be a difference-maker.
"J.D. Davis gives us another really versatile offensive-minded player," Van Wagenen said. "With what he's accomplished the last couple of years in Triple-A and the Minor Leagues, he's proven that he can be an added value to us on the big league roster."
Davis does have Minor League options remaining, allowing the Mets to hang onto his rights even if he doesn't make the team. As such, he plans to report to Spring Training "trying to outwork everybody, and trying to take those extra swings in the cage, those extra reps on the field, doing the work in the gym."
"I'm just around the corner," Davis said. "I feel like if I get the opportunity and I get the at-bats to at least fail, then I have no doubt that I will turn the corner and I will start turning some heads. I have absolutely all the confidence in the world in myself."
If that involves some extra pitching work along the way, Davis won't say no. Although he hasn't thrown any formal bullpen sessions since leaving Cal State Fullerton, where he posted a 2.98 ERA over three seasons, he has thrice pitched in lopsided games for the Astros. Last year, American League Cy Young Award contender Gerrit Cole noticed Davis' ability during a game of catch and started giving his teammate pointers on curveballs and sliders.
Perhaps Davis will soon have a chance to use the advice.
"Whatever I can do," he said. "It's a set skill that I have -- a good arm and a good fastball -- I can go out there and compete and throw some strikes and get some outs, that's for sure."