The Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets have been in trade rumors since the start of the offseason. So far — and we are now in the start of the 2014 regular season — nothing has materialized on the trade front, but a new development with the Mets’ first base situation has me speculating.
The New York Daily News‘ Andy Martino has reported that starting on Friday, Apr. 4, the Mets will give first baseman Lucas Duda an extended shot at manning the first base position. This means the Mets will move Ike Davis to a backup role for the foreseeable future. Along with Duda and Davis, the Mets are also carrying Josh Satin on their 25-man roster. Not many teams carry a third first baseman.
Well, a normal person would just take this news and not ask any questions. I’m not a normal person. As soon as I heard this report, I immediately began thinking about what it might mean for the Pirates. The Pirates need a first baseman, and the Mets have three on their roster. The Mets need bullpen help with closer Bobby Parnell possibly needing Tommy John Surgery, and the Pirates are currently trying to trade reliever Vin Mazzaro before he reaches waivers sometime next week. With Davis now being the backup, maybe he is more expendable.
Davis isn’t exactly an elite hitter, but he’s better than what the Pirates currently have, especially since he would fill in for Travis Ishikawa on the left-handed hitting side of the first-base platoon. In 2013, Davis hit .222/.356/.371 with a .727 OPS and a 109 wRC+ against right-handed pitching. Ishikawa didn’t have a significant sample size in 2013, so let’s look at his career numbers against right-handers. In 768 career plate appearances against righties, Ishikawa has hit .262/.331/.407 with a .738 OPS and a 97 wRC+. The difference between the two is that Davis has much higher upside and he is younger.
The Mets have been trade partners with the Pirates before — just look back to last August when the Pirates traded Vic Black and Dilson Herrera to the Amazins for Marlon Byrd and John Buck. I’m not suggesting a Mazzaro for Davis swap — that would seemingly be selling very low on Davis — but maybe the deal could have more players involved, or possibly even a third team.
Again, this isn’t a legitimate rumor as far as I know, but it’s certainly an idea worth thinking about. The Pirates clearly want to upgrade at first base, and the Mets seem to be thinking less of Davis now than they had been during the offseason and even in Spring Training.