Giants place J.D. Davis on release waivers

March 11th, 2024

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- ’ tenure with the Giants came to an abrupt end on Monday, when he was placed on unconditional release waivers after going unclaimed on outright waivers.

Davis had been viewed as a trade candidate ever since the Giants signed Matt Chapman to a one-year, $18 million deal, but the club ultimately couldn’t work out a deal for the 30-year-old third baseman.

Because Davis beat the Giants in an arbitration hearing last month, his $6.9 million salary is not guaranteed under the current rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Davis will be entitled to only 30 days of termination pay, which amounts to approximately $1.11 million. Once he clears release waivers, he'll be a free agent and eligible to sign with any team.

“We did spend last week kind of canvassing the league for trade interest and didn’t really get a lot of traction there,” president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said during a Zoom call with reporters on Monday. “As soon as we got the word that he went unclaimed on outright waivers, we just decided to make this move. It just kind of boils down to [his] role, some other guys on the team that we would have ahead of J.D. in terms of at-bats.

“If we had a 28- or a 30-man roster and we could keep everybody, because we know that the 162-game season winds up being a battle of attrition, that would be a different matter. But given the reality of our roster constraints, this was just the move we decided to make.”

With Chapman entrenched at third, Jorge Soler penciled in at designated hitter and LaMonte Wade Jr. and Wilmer Flores expected to split time at first, the Giants no longer had a regular role for Davis, who batted .248 with a .738 OPS and 18 home runs over 144 games in 2023. He and Flores share a similar skill set, so it would have been challenging to carry both of them on the bench during the regular season.

Zaidi said he was a bit surprised by the lack of trade interest in Davis, though he declined to reveal whether the Giants offered to pay down some of his salary to try to get a move done.

Is Zaidi worried that this move might affect the Giants’ reputation among players?

“I’d push back really strongly on this point,” Zaidi said. “When you part ways with a player, no matter what the circumstances, it’s often difficult, and it often feels personal to the player. I’ve been in three organizations and seen this a lot. It’s just the reality of the business side of things. As a front office person, you can shout from the rooftops it’s never personal. But I also understand from a player’s standpoint, it’s always going to feel personal. This is their life, their career.

“At the same time, to generalize that as a statement about the organization, I would just push back very strongly on that. … It is a big priority for us to take care of our players, and I think our players do feel that.”

The Blue Jays, Mariners and Cubs are among the clubs who could still use help at third base, so they could make sense as landing spots for Davis, who made it clear that his preference would be to find a way to reclaim a starting spot this year.

“I would love to be a starter,” Davis said last week. “I would love to be a third baseman. That’s been my dream. That’s something that I have lived through the last year and a half, being so close to home, playing in my backyard and wearing that Giants jersey and being a starting third baseman. Of course, there’s a preference to play every single game. But in this business, you don’t really have choices. Some things just happen and some people in the front office have different visions on their team and the lineup they want to see.”

Davis’ former teammates are certainly rooting for him to get a chance to flourish elsewhere.

“J.D. is a wonderful teammate,” right-hander Alex Cobb said. “He brought a lot of character to the clubhouse. Dry, witty humor. Played tremendously for us last year. Looked to potentially be almost an All-Star at the break. Stepped up every aspect of his game. He played fantastic defense for us. He hit the ball hard. That’s a tough situation to see happen to anybody, especially such a good teammate and just a good person overall. I hope he gets what he deserves out in free agency.”