J.D. Davis

How Davis' hectic Giants departure led to familiar A's role

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OAKLAND -- Just four weeks ago, veteran third baseman J.D. Davis was gearing up for his third season with the San Francisco Giants before one of the team's late free-agent signings rocked his world.

After San Francisco signed third baseman Matt Chapman to a one-year, $18 million contract on March 3, Davis, the odd man out in the Giants' infield, wound up signing with the Athletics for one year and $2.5 million on March 16 after he was placed on and subsequently cleared waivers.

Before he was placed on waivers, Davis saw the writing on the wall and knew he no longer had a clear role with the Giants, but wanted to show up anyway and put in the work, knowing an opportunity would materialize somewhere soon. In speaking to NBC Sports California after the A's 8-0 Opening Day loss to the Cleveland Guardians on Thursday at the Oakland Coliseum, Davis discussed the hectic two-week period that led him to a familiar role with Oakland.

"As it unfolded, it kind of unfolded really quickly," Davis told NBC Sports California. "It went from signing [Matt] Chapman to the next three, four days I remember working out in spring training not knowing what the game plan was. But I just wanted to be mature and not a distraction to the team. So they gave me the option not to show up and they gave me the option not even to come to the ballpark, but I wanted to get my work in and show that it didn't really affect me as much, just to be a professional."

Before Davis went unclaimed on waivers, the Giants attempted to trade him and were close to finalizing a deal with an undisclosed team, which led to the 30-year-old being scratched from San Francisco's lineup for a spring training game against the San Diego Padres on March 8.

"I got the phone call from [Giants president of baseball operations] Farhan [Zaidi] that there was a trade or something imminent that was going to go down," Davis shared. "... Farhan told me there was going to be a deal that is imminent and it was going to happen, so I ended up getting scratched from the Peoria roster thinking that there was going to be a transaction happening and there was going to be a change.

"But I didn't know who and I didn't know where. I tried to ask him if I'm staying in Arizona or if I'm staying in Florida. It would be helpful to know if I'd be moving and packing up my place. He didn't really tell me."

Davis showed up at the Giants' spring training facility on Saturday, March 9, but then was instructed to stay home the following day before Zaidi called on Monday with news of the trade falling through and the team's plan to place him on waivers.

"So from there, it was definitely a gut punch," Davis added. "I had a feeling that either a trade was going to happen or not, and heck, there probably was a chance I was going to clear waivers just for the sake of [there being] two weeks left in spring training, everybody's rosters are pretty much solidified, they've already had their first two, three cuts, their clubhouses are getting smaller."

After clearing waivers, the A's were not the only team interested in Davis' services. The veteran third baseman had interest from the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets, the A's and another team he couldn't recall. However, he was surprised he didn't receive interest from either the Seattle Mariners or Milwaukee Brewers, who he anticipated needing corner-infield depth.

The A's were the only team willing to let Davis continue playing third base, a position he made great strides at defensively last season. That continuity, plus reuniting with former Giants teammates Ross Stripling, Alex Wood and Scott Alexander, who pushed the front office to sign him, made Davis' decision to join the A's pretty easy.

"But when these guys reached out and they were vouching for me, I felt grateful," Davis shared. "Just past teammates are telling people that they would love having me on the team, that I'm a great clubhouse guy. It just speaks great for me knowing those guys vouched for me, that they stuck their neck out.

"Once they started texting me about, 'Hey, we want you over here, this is a good group of guys. Good, young core.' It just felt it was the best fit for me and the best transition so far."

Davis was eager to get to work with his new team, but needed an adjustment period after not playing for more than a week before signing with the A's.

Davis only spent about two months with new Giants manager Bob Melvin, but after joining the A's, it became clear how influential his former skipper was for Kotsay, his new manager who coached under Melvin before taking over as Oakland's manager in 2022.

"They're very much so player-friendly," Davis said of the similarities between Melvin and Kotsay. "I would say Kots is a little bit more of a motivational speaker in a sense, you can tell he's a little more fiery than Melvin. I'm not saying anything bad about Melvin, but you can tell Melvin's a little bit more reserved, but at the same time they're always there to have an ear for you for help and that's one thing that's great about Melvin rubbing off on Kots is that they are very much so in the progress and the development of players and they know it's going to be for the long haul."

While it was far from an easy process, Davis is starting to feel at home with the A's and is excited to continue the next chapter of his career with a young, up-and-coming Oakland team.

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