Best Potential Trade Packages, Landing Spots for Ike Davis
If only New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis could be the player he was in the second half of 2012 (.888 OPS, 20 HR in 75 games) over the course of a full season, he likely wouldn't be on the trade block this offseason. And if he were, teams would be much more willing to match general manager Sandy Alderson's asking price for the 26-year-old.
While Alderson has indicated to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com that he's fine with the current logjam at first base as the team heads into spring training, it's still very likely he'd prefer to send Davis and his $3.5 million salary packing.
The move would make room for the much more consistent Lucas Duda (.852 OPS in 2011, .718 OPS in 2012, .767 OPS in 2013) in a possible platoon with Josh Satin, who had an .882 OPS in 82 at-bats against left-handed pitching last season.
Kendrys Morales is the last viable first-base option on the free-agent market, although teams are shying away from his asking price and the draft pick it would cost any team that signs him. Trading for Davis could still be a much more preferable way to upgrade their lineup.
Here are four teams who could still have interest in acquiring Davis and the potential trade piece it would take to land him.
The Baltimore Orioles don't need a first baseman. Chris Davis, who hit 53 homers in 2013, is penciled into that spot. They do need another hitter, though, as there is currently a long list of underwhelming candidates expected to compete for the left field and designated hitter jobs.
One of the good things about the American League is that you could carry two players who are limited to the same position on your roster. As long as both can hit, one can be the designated hitter. Acquiring Davis, which was discussed, according to Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun, indicates that the O's would be willing to carry two first baseman with one being the primary designated hitter.
While the Mets were reportedly unsuccessful in their attempt to land pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post, they could opt to acquire another lefty starter who could help in 2014.
Zach Britton (pictured), who is a candidate for the Orioles' No. 5 starter spot, is out of options and will have to clear waivers if he isn't on the team's 25-man roster. His top competition is top prospect Kevin Gausman, who will be in the Orioles' rotation at some point, even if it's not on Opening Day.
With that in mind, the O's could look to deal Britton now as opposed to when he has less value once teams know he's close to being placed on waivers. The 26-year-old sinker-baller had a 4.61 ERA in 28 starts during a promising rookie season in 2011, but has battled injuries and inconsistency since.
A change in scenery could help. The Mets also have a void at the back of their rotation with Jenrry Mejia and Carlos Torres as the leading candidates to win the No. 5 spot.
Young starters with five seasons of club control and upside are hard to find. For the price of Davis, Britton would be a solid pickup.
Alex White (pictured) was once a highly touted prospect in the Cleveland Indians organization before they sent him to the Colorado Rockies in the deal for Ubaldo Jimenez. Not surprisingly, he struggled with the Rockies before they did him the favor of trading him to the Houston Astros last offseason.
The right-hander underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in March, however, and is a question mark for the 2014 season. Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports that he's on track for the start of spring training, although pitchers don't normally return within 12 months and can often have multiple setbacks in their recovery.
While acquiring the 25-year-old White might result in very few innings in 2014, he'd come relatively cheap in his first year of arbitration in 2015, and he'd be under team control through 2017. Even if he ends up as a late-inning reliever, the potential reward if he can become a solid mid-rotation starter is worth the risk.
From the Astros' perspective, they have several young arms on the way to showcase their talents in 2014. What they lack is left-handed power, which Davis would provide. Brett Wallace, who would likely be the odd man out if Davis was acquired, hit 13 homers in 79 games last season, but his 18-walks-to-104 strikeout ratio could be alarming enough that they're ready to move on.
With first-base prospect Jonathan Singleton closing in on the majors, Davis could shift, too, if he's retained in 2015 or head back to the trade block if he has a solid season.
After agreeing to terms on a minor league deal with Mark Reynolds, the Milwaukee Brewers appear to have solidified the right-handed hitting side of their first-base platoon. The question now is whether they feel Juan Francisco is a better option than Ike Davis as the left-handed part of the platoon.
And if Davis is preferred, is he so much better that he's worth giving up a valuable piece in return? My guess is that they'd love to pencil in Davis over Francisco, who has a career .300 on-base percentage and a career 2.7 AB/K rate.
They weren't interested in parting with Tyler Thornburg, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, which is understandable after his strong finish to the 2013 season (2.16 ERA over last four starts). But would they be willing to give up Taylor Jungmann, who still has value as a former first-round pick with upside but has been less than impressive in the minors?
The 24-year-old Jungmann, who was the 12th overall pick in the 2011 draft, has a 3.91 ERA with a 3.7 BB/9 and 5.6 K/9 in 52 starts between Double-A and High-A. I'm sure he has the potential to be much better or else he wouldn't have been drafted so high.
If the Mets feel the same, maybe they'd take Jungmann in a deal for Davis.
The Pittsburgh Pirates currently have Gaby Sanchez, who is obviously a better fit as the right-handed hitting part of a platoon (.987 OPS versus left-handed pitching in 2013; .619 OPS versus right-handed pitching), as their everyday first baseman.
While Andrew Lambo, Chris McGuiness and Travis Ishikawa are all currently in the mix to win a share of playing time with Sanchez, Davis would likely rank well ahead of that group if he were acquired.
The Bucs have one of the best farm systems in the game, although they won't have to give up any of their best prospects to acquire Davis.
With Stolmy Pimentel, who is out of options, expected to fill a bullpen role in 2014, one of two unexpected contributors to last year's bullpen—Jeanmar Gomez (pictured) and Vin Mazzaro—could be the odd man out this time around.
Gomez, who had some success as a starter with the Cleveland Indians, could step into the No. 5 starter spot with the Mets and return to a bullpen role, where he had a 3.77 ERA in 26 reilef appearances last season, if necessary. He wouldn't be the main piece in the deal, though.
If the Bucs would give up center fielder Barrett Barnes, the 45th pick in the 2012 draft, they could land Davis.
The 22-year-old Barnes has put up solid numbers in his two minor league seasons (.787 OPS between Low-A and Short-Season ball) but is far down on the list of Pirates outfield prospects, which is headed by Gregory Polanco, Josh Bell, Harold Ramirez and Austin Meadows, the 13th overall pick in the 2013 draft.