New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis has been the topic of various MLB trade rumors this offseason. The Mets must decide whether they want either him, Lucas Duda or someone else to be their starter at first base in 2014.
Coming off a season in which he hit 30 home runs, Davis has been drawing more trade interest than Duda.
Neither has shown enough to think that either should stick around in New York for 2014. I’d rather have a fresh face from outside the organization be the team’s first baseman next season. The probability of that happening, however, will likely depend on how the trade market develops later this winter.
After enduring a slow start in 2012, Davis rebounded in the second half, slugging 32 home runs with 90 RBI despite a .227 batting average. Manager Terry Collins expected on Davis to be the main source of power and protection in the Mets lineup behind David Wright in 2013.
Unfortunately for the Mets, that didn’t happen.
Davis finished the season with a .205/.326/.334 stat line to go with nine home runs and 33 RBI, as he spent nearly a month in Triple-A. New York may allow the market to decide whether it will hold onto Davis for another year, or hand over most of the playing time at first base to Duda.
At this point of the offseason, teams in need of a cheap power option at first base prefer Davis. Unlike Duda, he has shown the ability to be a productive source of power with his home run total from 2012. The Tampa Bay Rays and Milwaukee Brewers have most notably been linked to Davis and the Mets following the GM meetings last week.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times touched upon why the Rays would be interested in Davis:
But the Rays, who drafted but didn't sign Davis in 2005, would have to be intrigued by the potential lefty power, plus getting three years of control and a somewhat reasonable cost — an arbitration projected $3.5 million salary. That's about the same as Matt Joyce is to make, and the Mets seek a corner outfielder, though the Rays need lefty power.
Matt Joyce would be an interesting acquisition for the Mets. In 140 games during 2013, the corner outfielder hit .235/.328/.419 with 18 home runs and 47 RBI. He would provide some extra power in the Mets outfield, but would likely not be used more than as a fourth outfielder or utility man if this trade were to come about.
The Brewers are a more intriguing trade partner, especially if they make Norichika Aoki available. According to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com, Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin recently acknowledged that his team would be a good fit for a potential swap with the Mets.
Aoki is due to become a free agent following the 2014 season, but would provide the Mets with a true leadoff hitter. The 31-year-old hit .286/.356/.370 last season, including eight home runs, 37 RBI, 80 runs scored and 20 stolen bases. He’s due to earn $1.95 million next season.
Adam Rubin of ESPN New York noted that the Houston Astros, Baltimore Orioles and Colorado Rockies have all expressed interest in Davis. It’s all but certain that he won’t be suiting up for the Mets next season. Alderson will likely hold onto his first baseman until later in the winter, when the market isn’t full of players with power potential.
Unless Alderson can pull off a miracle and pry Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez from Colorado, the Brewers seem to be the best fit for either side in a trade. Milwaukee would receive a relatively cheap option to fill its void at first base while Davis would bring a solid glove and great power potential that would become even more notable due to playing half his home games at Miller Park.
On the flip side, the Mets would get a true leadoff hitter with a knack for getting on base. In 1,117 career at-bats, Aoki has struck out 95 times while drawing 98 walks and boasts a .355 on-base percentage. Striking this kind of deal would save New York some money and allow the Mets spending more on a power hitting outfielder or shortstop elsewhere.
If the Mets front office is tired of giving Davis a chance to blossom into a consistent major league hitter, it needs to acquire a player who Collins can write into his lineup every day. If the Mets wait long enough, there will be a team desperate enough to give up something that it would prefer to hold on to in a potential exchange.