Rajai Davis, the majors’ active stolen bases leader, wants to play in 2020. His desire is still there, and he believes his ability is, too, when he gets a chance.
But Davis, 38, understands that this weekend, as the Mets host the Braves, might be the end of his baseball playing career. He understands that teams these days aren’t hot for free-agent veterans in the twilight of their playing days.
“I’m just going to wait it out and train like I’m going to get another job next year,” said Davis, who spent most of this season with Triple-A Syracuse but has gotten into 26 games with the big-league team. “I guess we’ll see what happens.”
If this is the end, Davis is at peace with that. The primary reason: Retirement will mean more of a chance to spend time with his young children.
“Absolutely,” Davis said. “Honestly, I’m really thinking about my kids more than anything. My daughter’s birthday is (Friday). I’m missing that. They’re having a birthday party for her (Saturday). She’s turning 6. And she told me a month ago that she wanted me at her birthday party.
“My son is 4. He understands. When I say he understands, he knows that he wants Dad around. You know? He can’t really articulate that, but with his emotions he does. That’s real.
“That’s why I’m glad I started my family late in my career, so that when it was that time, I could just move away, go away and spend more time with the kids and be a father.”
Davis has had quite the run — pun intended. In 14 major-league seasons, he has stolen 415 bases (none with the Mets). That became more than any other active player when Jose Reyes (517) never got a job and Ichiro Suzuki (509) retired this year.
“I’m really proud of that,” Davis said.
Davis has played for eight teams and in three postseasons, including 2016, when he hit a tying homer for the Indians off the Cubs’ Aroldis Chapman in Game 7 of the World Series. He has 62 homers, 387 RBIs and a .262 average. He has made more than $30 million.
Not bad for a 38th-round draft pick — No. 1,134 overall — out of UConn-Avery Point, a junior college.
And if Davis has his way, he’ll add to that resume next season.
“That’s the plan,” he said. “I do have a preference. I’d like to be involved someway, somehow.”
J.D. Davis’ best shot at regular playing time in the future is in the outfield — not his natural position of third base — manager Mickey Callaway said. Davis has mostly manned leftfield this year (as he did Friday night and went 2-for-4 with the go-ahead two-run homer in a 4-2 victory over Atlanta), and has played rightfield in the past. Callaway cited the presence of Jeff McNeil and Jed Lowrie (and Robinson Cano at second) as reason there isn’t room for Davis in the infield ... Could Mickey Callaway picture himself being a pitching coach at 82 like Phil Regan? “I don’t even picture myself being alive,” Callaway said.