The ongoing drama surrounding Ike Davis’ standing with the New York Mets organization is no more, as the Pittsburgh Pirates made a crafty trade to pry him from the Big Apple on Friday for the low cost of minor league reliever Zack Thornton as well as a player to be named later. One team’s trash could be another team’s treasure, as Davis now gives the Pirates a low-risk, very high reward option at first base as a power-hitting 27-year-old. Ultimately, Davis proved to be too inconsistent for the Mets’ liking after posting low batting averages the past two seasons as well as increased ineptitude against lefties.
Davis likely will split at-bats early on at first base with Gaby Sanchez. Pittsburgh has not gotten much production in recent years from that spot, failing last year in a similar attempt at boosting the offense with the Justin Morneau acquisition. The move was made with eyes set on the future and not with thoughts of Davis providing a simple patchwork fix. “Hopefully this is a move that solves our first base needs for years to come,” said Pirates general manager Neal Huntington according to ABC News.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson claimed that the writing was on the wall and the team had decided to deal their first baseman months ago. The minuscule amount of faith and patience shown for Davis, a former first-round pick and budding young star, was troubling. He has proven to be a streaky hitter, but Davis truly only had one poor season in 2013. Even so, Davis hit .286 after the All-Star break last season after being summoned back from the minors following a disastrous start to his campaign.
One man who was very excited to see Davis finally cut loose from New York was his father, former major leaguer Ron Davis. According to the New York Daily News, Davis’ father said of the trade that, “that’s the greatest news we’ve heard.” He went on to add that it is a great fit, and that it would make little sense for his son to want to continue playing for a franchise that did not want him. Following Davis’ 32-homer season in 2012, New York’s front office gradually fell out of love with him during his huge slump to begin 2013, and he never won them back over.
Trade rumors have swirled around Davis for quite some time, which makes the timing of the deal puzzling from the Mets’ standpoint. They could have landed a dramatically better deal had they dealt Davis at some point during the past year or two. Alderson also added that since the team had an equal amount of faith in first base incumbent Lucas Duda, who is a year older than Davis with much less potential or room for growth. Even the Davis who flailed his way through last season is not much worse at all than Duda at his best. The Mets are also not a team known for tearing the cover off the ball that can justify a move like this.
Two somewhat prolonged slumps was all it took to get Ike Davis out of New York, and he most definitely could be a diamond in the rough for the Pirates. They made the move with the intention of having him blossom at first now that he is on a winning ball club with a team that actually has faith in him. It may not be long before Davis returns to his usual power-hitting form.
Commentary by Justin Hussong