While many St. Louis Cardinals fans are tired of acquiring lower tier players, Matt Davidson is one that would serve as a solid backup with little monetary risk.
I know that St. Louis Cardinals fans are sick and tired of hearing about the random names that the Cardinals could get and want to move on to the big time. I get it, I really do, but the reason I bring up signing Matt Davidson, who was just non-tendered by the White Sox, is because of the move’s safety.
Davidson is a former first round pick by the Diamondbacks in 2009, but his career didn’t quite go as planned. He played just 37 games for the Diamondbacks major league affiliate, spending his time mired in the minors. He has played in 938 minor league games compared to just 273 games in the majors, with 242 of those played in the last two seasons for the White Sox.
This means that he still has plenty of team control left, not even reaching the three years of service time required to become eligible for arbitration. This also means that Davidson’s price will be quite low. While he isn’t quite good enough as a hitter to be an everyday player, that deficiency will allow him to be an incredible value for what he should end up costing.
Davidson’s .226 career batting average leaves much to be desired, and pairing that with a lack of fielding ability makes it difficult for me to imagine Davidson costing more than $2M. But for the St. Louis Cardinals, the power upside that he brings would be worth that small sum, and could serve as a way to fill the power gap that Matt Adams‘ eventual departure will leave on the bench.
He hit at least 20 homers in his two full seasons with the White Sox, and has shown gradual improvements in his approach in 2018, including bring his BB% up to a serviceable 10.5% while slightly decreasing his K%. His days as an elite prospect are long behind him, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t be a safe and important investment for the St. Louis Cardinals.
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While Davidson is not the hitter that Adams is, the potential value that he can provide as a cheap player off the bench is there. He can’t be relied on as an everyday player in the National League, but could serve as a backup corner infielder and pinch hitting power spark, something that would fit nicely on the Cardinals roster as of now.
Without Adams, the possibilities for pop to come off the bench in 2019 would consist of Jedd Gyorko, Jose Martinez, Yairo Munoz, or Patrick Wisdom, unless Fowler starts over O’Neill for whatever reason. None of these guys really have the spontaneous pop that you are looking for, but Davidson has the potential to provide that.
His average hit velocity in 2018 was 74th in the league at 90 mph, while his max hit velocity was 115.1 mph, tying him for 24th in the league with Ketel Marte and a certain outfielder on the minds of St. Louis Cardinals fans.
While the focus of the front office should be on acquiring the big names, the rest of the pieces on the roster can’t be ignored. Matt Davidson’s home run hitting profile would fill a gap on the bench for 2019 and possibly beyond, and the lack of cost to go with it would make him a safe addition for the St. Louis Cardinals.