The tumultuous relationship between Ike Davis and the New York Mets finally came to an end, as the Mets shipped Davis to the Pittsburgh Pirates for right-handed reliever Zach Thornton and a player to be named later according to CBS’ John Heyman.
Davis hit 32 home runs just two seasons ago, but never got on track in 2013 and was even sent down for a stint at Triple-A Las Vegas. It was assumed the Mets would deal Davis this offseason, but general manager Sandy Alderson claims that he never got a sufficient deal. This deal was likely precipitated by New York’s need to open up a roster spot before activating outfielder Chris Young from the disabled list and by the unusual triple platoon that Terry Collins had to juggle.
Whether or not this was an adequate return on the former first-round pick will be a question for somewhere down the line. It’s unfair to label any deal with an unknown entity (the player to be named later) as a bust before finding out the identity of the second player. Thornton doesn’t seem to be a great return, but he could certainly help the beleaguered Mets bullpen this season.
The trade of Davis indicates that the Mets are likely to go forward with Lucas Duda as their everyday first baseman, with Josh Satin mixing in against occasional lefties. Duda has struggled in past seasons, but it could be theorized it’s because he was never given consistent playing time at his natural position of first base until the final months of last season. Duda fits the organizational profile of a player with a selective eye at the plate, but it remains to be seen how consistent he can be. Duda is likely a step down defensively from Davis, so he’ll have to deliver something extra with the bat to make up for that discrepancy.
For the Pirates, this seems like a pretty good gamble. Thornton was exposed in the Rule V draft and was passed over by every team, so it’s not likely he would have had a role in Pittsburgh anytime soon. Davis has struggled a bit at the beginning of this season without every day at-bats, but he’s still a sizable upgrade over Travis Ishikawa. Whether or not Davis can regain his home run stroke in a pitcher’s park like PNC Park is something to watch. Either way, it’s hard to see a downside with taking a one-year gamble on a guy who hit 30+ home runs just a few seasons ago.
Check back when the player to be named is actually named, as then we’ll be able to assess the full scope of this deal. For now, however, it looks like the Mets were forced to swallow a bitter pill and sell Davis at the bottom end of his value.