After several seasons of disappointment with the New York Mets, first baseman Ike Davis will finally be given the fresh start he so desperately needs.
The Pittsburgh Pirates' official Twitter account announced on Friday that the team had acquired Davis for right-handed relief pitcher Zack Thornton and a player to be named later:
D.J. Short of NBC Sports broke down Thornton and the type of production he might bring to the Mets in the future:
Zach Thornton is a right-handed reliever. 2.63 ERA and 90/12 K/BB ratio over 75 1/3 innings in the minors last year.— D.J. Short (@djshort) April 18, 2014
The Pirates are the real winners in this deal, though. Davis has never been able to lock in and string together consistent season with the Mets, and getting out of New York will be great for the 27-year-old.
Davis made his debut in April 2010 and mashed during his rookie campaign. He crushed 19 homers and drove in 71, slashing what would end up being a full-season-career-high of .264/.351/.440. The lefty slugger finished seventh in the National League Rookie of the Year voting as a result.
Injuries mired his 2011 campaign, but he returned with 32 homers and 90 RBI in 2012. That said, his slash line plummeted (.227/.308/.462) and he struck out a career-high 141 times. Davis did close 2012 on a high note, as Bleacher Report's Zachary Rymer points out:
I'm just as fascinated by Ike Davis' spurts than by his struggles. Had a .913 OPS in final 100 games of 2012. A .429 OBP in last 48 in 2013.— Zachary D. Rymer (@zachrymer) April 18, 2014
He couldn't carry that over into the 2013 season, and Mets fans began to grow impatient. In nearly full-time work (317 at-bats, 103 games), Davis mustered just nine homers and 33 RBI. His OPS of .661 was (at the time) .110 points lower than his next-worst season.
As a result, manager Terry Collins knew not to rely on him in 2014. He went into the season with Davis, Lucas Duda and Josh Satin scheduled for reps at first. Now, Duda and Satin will have the position all to themselves.
Before leaving, though, Davis did supply Mets fans with an exciting moment:
Now, the Pirates won't hand Davis the job right from the start. Right-handed hitter Gaby Sanchez has three homers and a .259/.310/.667 line through 27 at-bats, so a platoon appears to be in order.
Being the left-handed portion of the platoon will give Davis plenty of opportunities to show what he's worth against the right-handed starters of the NL Central. A platoon is perfect for Davis. To be fair, the Mets handled him pretty poorly.
When he was playing well, there were obviously no problems. As soon as he began to struggle and the boos began coming his way, he struggled. The Mets left him in the lineup while struggling last season before sending him down and then bringing him up again.
Going into this year, Collins should have had a designated platoon ready. Instead, he went into the season not knowing who his first baseman was. Collins, via Matt Ehalt of NorthJersey.com, claimed that the decision would "go down to the very end" this spring, but then it trickled into the regular season as well.
Will Davis right the ship in Pittsburgh?
Satin (12), Davis (24) and Duda (40) all got at-bats in the early going, similar to how they would in spring training. This type of uncertainty likely led to Davis pressing at the dish. Now with a more defined role in Pittsburgh, look for him to relax and produce.
A guy who can hit 30 homers per season is there. He did it once before, prior to all the animosity. All he needs to do is settle down and accept his platoon role. In doing so, he'll begin the process of resurrecting his once-promising career.
Thornton and the PTBNL might very well end up being decent major leaguers, but the Pirates are the immediate winners of this deal. Don't be surprised if Davis hits 20 homers and produces a .750 OPS this year for the Buccos.