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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

First Pitch: The Fallout From the Ike Davis Trade

After an entire off-season of speculation, rumors, and being attached to every potentially available first base option on the trade market, the Pittsburgh Pirates finally traded for a first baseman. Today, in the third week of the regular season, they acquired Ike Davis from the New York Mets, in exchange for Zack Thornton and a player to be named later.

As I mentioned in my article today, the PTBNL could be a big piece. Thornton could have been had in the Rule 5 draft over the off-season for free. For that reason, it’s unlikely that he was a key piece in this deal. For more on the Davis trade, check out the article above. Also, Nate Barnes talked with Neal Huntington, who thinks the Pirates can get Davis on the right track. That’s pretty obvious, since they dealt for him, but Huntington talked about some of the things he liked from Davis, and some of the ways Davis could improve after the trade.

For some closing thoughts on the deal:

**I saw some people speculating that the PTBNL could be a guy on the minor league DL. I could be wrong on this, but I don’t think there are restrictions against trading players on the minor league DL. I also saw speculation from people wondering if it’s one of the injured players, and the Mets are just waiting for their health to be known to announce the deal. This makes no sense, as the Mets wouldn’t want to make a trade without knowing exactly what they’re getting back, including the health of the players coming in return.

**Thornton is a good reliever, but was buried on the Pirates’ depth chart. I could see him cracking the majors with the Mets this year, especially with the bullpen help they seem to need. Meanwhile, he would have had a tough time making the Pirates with all of the depth options in front of him. The Pirates acquired Thornton before the 2013 season, in exchange for Chris Resop.

**I wouldn’t be surprised if the PTBNL is a 2013 draft pick. A lot of New York sources were saying that piece is considered significantly better than Thornton, and the PTBNL aspect makes sense if it’s a 2013 pick. That said, I would be shocked if it’s Austin Meadows or Reese McGuire. As for anyone else in the system, I probably wouldn’t trade a top ten prospect for Davis, but outside of the top ten, the cost might not be that bad. For now, it’s hard to judge the move, since we don’t know the cost, and we don’t know what Davis can do.

**I liked that Andrew Lambo has been hitting lately with Indianapolis. However, this move means that Lambo probably won’t be in the first base plans anytime soon. And the fact that Gregory Polanco will be up in mid-June means that Lambo doesn’t have a spot in right field. It looks like he’s now a depth option. I liked Lambo, and wanted to see him get a shot. I think he comes with more upside than Davis. However, Davis represents the safer option, since he has some Major League success.

**I think we can put the “Will Travis Snider move to first base when Polanco arrives?” questions to bed. If Snider is still hitting fairly well at that time, then it wouldn’t hurt to keep him around as a strong bench bat, which is something the Pirates haven’t had in recent years.

**Likewise, this answers the question of whether the Pirates could pursue Kendrys Morales after the draft.

**The Pirates won’t have to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Davis, since the roster was previously at 39. They will have to clear a 25-man spot, and that spot will come from Travis Ishikawa. Likewise, Ishikawa will have to be designated for assignment, meaning the Pirates will be back down to 39 spots on the 40-man after the deal goes through.

I’d expect Davis to be added to the roster at some point this weekend, possibly tomorrow if he can make it to Pittsburgh in time. We’ll have full coverage of the moves, along with updates on the roster pages.

Links and Notes

**Pirates Trade For Ike Davis

**Neal Huntington Thinks the Pirates Can Get Ike Davis on the Right Track

**Prospect Watch: Three Hits For Polanco; Seven Shutout Innings For Cumpton

**Photos and Analysis From Last Night’s Pirates Win Over the Brewers

**Minor League Schedule: Joely Rodriguez Looks To Rebound From Poor Outing

**Draft Prospect Watch: Matt Imhof Throws Shutout Ball Vs. Top College Bats

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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.


Pirates Prospects has been independently owned and operated since 2009, entirely due to the support of our readers. The site is now completely free, funded entirely by user support. By supporting the site, you are supporting independent writers, one of the best Pittsburgh Pirates communities online, and our mission for the most complete Pirates coverage available.

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The way things are going the Mets are going to have more Pirates prospects playing for them than the Pirates.

R Edwards

We lack first basemen in the upper parts of the system, so we practically give away Alex Dickerson for a spare outfielder who we have no need for. Now, we block one of our top remaining first base prospects, by trading for a guy who could not even crack the line-up of one of the worse teams in baseball – who the Mets could not wait to dump on someone. This is just a stupid trade. I hope Ike Davis becomes Chris Davis, and proves me absolutely wrong, but pardon me if I do not hold my breath for that to happen.


Dickerson was a horrible 1st baseman, he’s a OF, and we have more than enough quality OF. He was good, but we have better so he’s expendable.


So, we just traded for a horrible first baseman – who makes $3.5m and can’t hit much over .200 ans ks about 1 every 4 at bats. Dickerson could have done that, and not cost us a prospect in a trade.


You are ignoring the fact that Davis has been productive and still can be productive. Dickerson was productive in AA as a OF not a 1B. You’re literally comparing apples to oranges.


“Now, we block one of our top remaining first base prospects, by trading for a guy who could not even crack the line-up of one of the worse teams in baseball ”

Oh please, Andrew Lambo was practically given the 1B job this spring. If he had shown what he needed to show, the Pirates wouldn’t have had to make this trade now. I don’t ever really believe that guys are blocked on the Pirates these days, your bat will push its way into the lineup if it’s worthy. It’s just like Polanco, I’ve actually heard some people concerned that Snider might cause the Pirates to delay Polanco’s advancement. No way. When Polanco is ready, he’s the starting RF.

Lambo obviously did nothing to cement the 1B job after it was given to him and lost it to a journeyman in Ishikawa. Davis won’t be blocking Lambo. Davis was called in because Lambo hasn’t shown that he should be the 1B, so Davis will be blocking no one (well, he’ll push Ishikawa off of the roster, but that’s it.).


I don’t know if I am creating dots or connecting ones that aren’t there,
but I wonder if the Mets are waiting to see if the Brewers are going to
keep Wei-Chung Wang for the season. If the Brewers do not keep Wang he
could be the PTBNL.

R Edwards

I seriously doubt that – we could only be so lucky.

R Edwards

If the Pirates included one of their top 20-25 prospects in this trade, as the PTBNL, they were fleeced. Davis’ value could not be any lower than it is right now – coming off a horrible year last year, slow start this year, and a $3.5m contract to boot. The Mets must be thrilled just to have gotten some team to take Davis off their hands – to get a good prospect for him, they would have to be doing cartwheels!
This just seems like a panic move – and now they have effectively blocked Lambo from getting another shot anytime soon – regardless if Davis continues to struggle to stay above the Mendoza line. How is Davis that much of an improvement? He’s below average defensively, strikes out too much, and has never hit for a good average. I just hope we only are giving up a low B/C type prospect – anything more was too high of a high price.


The only panic I see is in your response, this is the exact reason you acquire prospects. It’s most likely a 11-20, this isn’t a franchise changing acquisition. It’s going to be a player the prospect rich Pirates can afford to trade. People overreacted when we acquired Byrd last year, and it ended up being a quality move, he helped the Pirates tremendously. Do I like to see prospects traded? No, but it’s a part of baseball, and if anything Neil has shown he deserves our trust.


You are wrong…i was saying the Pirates should go after Byrd long before they traded for him – even though others on this site said otherwise. I had no problem with that trade, because Byrd was a producer – Davis isn’t. He should be a bargain basement type of trade target, as his value cannot possibly be very high. So, if we did indeed traded a top 20 prospects for this stiff, we were indeed fleeced. Because, Lambo or Iskawawa could both hit .205 too, and cost a lot less.

Travis Persinger

I think everyone on the site gets it…you’ve made about 15 comments blasting this deal. You don’t like it. You think Ike Davis is a bum.


Okay, well at least it is well documented. I will be happy to eat crow if Davis proves me wrong.But, I have my doubts.


Just because the mets believe the player to be named is significant doesn’t mean we do. Obviously the mets want the guy they’re getting or they wouldnt make the deal


I think it’ll be one or the 11-20 prospects…most of these guys would be top 10 in other systems, so I could see one of those being considered “significant”


I am almost physically ill over this trade ….Davis stinks and I

S Brooks

Had to pause typing to vomit?


Brooks…..you don’t know how close to the truth you are. lol


Yeah Mike I know you were sick over the Volquez signing too. How you feeling about that move now? Davis is a huge upgrade and is going to surprise people. So far we only know of a rule 5 player not even drafted as the only confirmed return. We’ll see what else was given up before I complain about anything.


csnumber23……How do you know how I felt about Volquez? If you can find any comment I made about Volquez I will send you $100. I guess you know how Davis will turn out the same way you can read minds.
I don’t care about Davis. I care about another good prospect that the team will lose.


Because I have seen you complaining constantly on this site, so it is an easy assumption that you were complaining over the Volquez signing. Of course you won’t admit it now. What do you mean another good prospect? You act like they are trading top prospects all the time. We don’t even know who was traded yet. No I don’t know how Davis will turn out but I do know he has talent and my opinion is he will be a big upgrade.


(cont.) think they are going to give up a really good prospect for this guy who is toast.
I understand the problems that small revenue teams have in acquiring players but to give up good prospects for nothing really hurts.


pm: I share your concern, but the timing of this trade is totally in favor of the Pirates. He was getting almost no playing time in NY, therefore his value to anyone was going South on the express, and the Pirates are not in need of another bat at this point in the season, they are in need of some consistent outings from their starting pitching. So, this looks like a “only if the price is right” exchange and I think NH has earned our support on that measure.


Worst trade ever. Ike Davis is the baby of Pedro and Marte without the average or homerun ability.


He has a higher career OPS than Alverez…


Not since 2011, and besides Manny Ramirez also has a higher career OPS than Alvarez. Would you say he is a better fit for this team right now?


Ike Davis strikeouts less than Alvarez and has walked more, and has a career triple slash line better than Pedro’s. Davis starting pounding fastball into the ground last year and his fly ball rated dropped, but there is ability there and he is a better option for the 75-80% of PAs against RHP than any of the Pirate’s other options at first. Former 1st round pick and top 100 prospect, this is a classic Huntington move.


Barry Bonds also has a better career triple slash line than Pedro, do
you want him at 1B? And MAYBE being a better option than anyone on this
team now doesn’t mean he still wont be the worst 1B in the National
League, and it certainly doesn’t mean Davis is worth any type of decent
player, which we still might give the Mets. This is only classic
Huntington if he gives them a prospect in this system as valuable as
Thornton was. Anything more, and it is so very not a Huntington move.
It then reeks of desperation. Huntington never shells out talent for
mediocrity, and if he does it here, then he is losing it.


The entire idea of amassing prospects is that you then trade from areas of depth to file holes in major league roster. Obviously this deal cannot fully be evaluated until the additional player is know but historically only hitting prospects ranked 1-20 have success rates of 50%, everyone less in the top 100 is below that and for pitching prospects, there is no such thing as a pitching prospect.

At the beginning of the year the Pirates were projected to receive the 28th best production from first base, I think it improbable that they have not improved that position.


But you aren’t filling a hole. You aren’t even creating depth, because I’m not sure that Davis is a definitive upgrade over Ishikawa. There is a reason he doesn’t start in NY anymore. He is not a very good player. You said it yourself, all he does is beat the ball into the ground. I don’t see many groundballs go for extra base hits. He doesn’t walk enough to make up for his lack of hitting, and he doesn’t even have strong power numbers. He’s a bad defender to boot. So please prove to me that he makes this team better. 2012 was an utter fluke.

S Brooks

Davis is certainly an upgrade over Ishikawa, and it’s hard to see how he isn’t. The power has been consistent throughout Davis’ career with the exception of 2013 – he has posted ISOs between .175 – .245 every season except last, and when he returned from AAA he was back to doing his thing again, with a .219 ISO in the second half of the season. Ishikawa has a lifetime .140, which is what you would expect an average catcher to deliver.

And contrary to your assertion above, Davis walks quite a bit – he adds 92 points from his AVG to his OBP, which more than makes up for the difference in batting average between himself and Ishikawa. That .092 would have ranked 3rd on the team last year had he been a Pirate – better than Cutch and Walker.

And as a platoon bat, he’s .100 points of OPS better against righties than Ishi for his career.

Davis isn’t an all-star. But he’s a significant upgrade offensively over Ishikawa, and his defense is playable, particularly if Hurdle employs Gaby as the late inning defensive replacement.


I’m sorry but there is a rather big difference between an ISO of .175 and .245. That isn’t consistency. Youre purposely expanding your parameters to make your point. His ISO in his career is .192, and it is massively inflated by 2012. His power numbers aren’t very good.

I’ll answer your walk rate response with, “it depends”. If he hits .240, his career average, and if his walk rate stays elevated from 2013, then yes, he barely gets on base enough. But if his average stays where it’s at now, and his walk rate stays in his career norm then no he does not walk enough. This lineup cannot handle a .208 average even if the guy walks at a decent rate, not to mention another 100 K’s will certainly be added as well.

Yes as a platoon option, Davis appears to have better splits vs. RHP, but at what cost are willing to gain an .800 OPS from a guy that wont play late in games or vs lefties, if he can even get to .800? Is that worth a top 11-15 prospect in this system? Is that worth a 2013 draftee with decent potential? Hell no. Marlon Byrd only earned a top 10 prospect from Pit. You’re giving Davis too much credit.

S Brooks

1. ISO – Sure there’s a large difference between .175 and .245, but (a) Davis has had 2 seasons of a .230+ ISO, plus the .219 he put up in the second half of last year, and (b) even a .175 ISO is above average for a 1B. And in any case, he’s in a different category than Ishikawa, whether he’s at the top or bottom of his range.

2. Walks – if he bats .240 and carries over his walks from 2013, you have a 1B with an OBP of .360. If that’s your standard for barely enough, then I feel for you – it must be agony to watch the 2/3 of regulars that can’t crack that level of adequacy. For me, all Davis needs to do is be about average (.335) and I’ll be happy.

3. One month of Marlon Byrd for our #10 prospect vs. 5.5 months – 3 years of Ike Davis for, at most, someone rated in the #15 -#25 range (assuming it’s Taylor/Dickson/Jones, and I’m using the season beginning list, which includes Taillon, Sanchez, Pimentel and Holmes).

Because he was only here for a month, Byrd only added 3/4 of a win. Davis should have no trouble exceeding that and more. And while Byrd was certainly an upgrade over the incumbents, recall that Tabata was hitting throughout the second half of the year, whereas the position Davis is upgrading (LH 1B) was delivering zero value, so every extra win really is a win.

Hard not to see this as a better deal, unless you really do believe that Davis’ April – June 2013 is his true level.


I do not think Davies is some savior, I do not think he will hit 32 homeruns. You can parse the stats to fit your story I prefer to look at the whole picture, large samples are always better. in 2011, Alvarez was worse than Davis 2013 in terms of hitting weak grounders and he obviously turned it around. If Davis can get back to hitting fly balls and doesn’t face LHP pitching he provides value.

By rate stats his best year was the injury shortened 2011 season, and even in his worst year he was had .324 wOBA against RHP, Ishikawa for his career is .319 wOBA and he was a 31 yo NRI. For his career he has been a slightly positive defender at first. You are seriously over valuing prospects if the Pirates cannot give up a 2013 draft pick from the 3rd round or lower for the large half of a first base platoon.


How am I fitting the stats? I never brought up these specific stats. And I’m not fitting it to any story. But I’m also not going to pretend that Davis will replicate his 22 year old season either. I don’t think he’s that player anymore. I’m certain that he played well over his head in 2012 as well. So which part isn’t part of the big picture. He isn’t a very good player, that’s how you lose your starting gig and don’t get it back. And because he isn’t a good player, he doesn’t warrant a trade for even a 2013 draftee from the 4th round. That’s not overvaluing, its simply a desire to not make the team worse. But hey, we will see. Have a good one


That is fair enough, his most recent season is not inspiring but I don’t think he makes the team worse and I hope it is prospect outside the top 20.


“Barry Bonds also has a better career triple slash line than Pedro, do you want him at 1B?”

Heck to the yeah, I’d take Bonds on this team in a heartbeat.


You would want a 50 year old has-been at first? Do you actually think he can still play? If so, then you should be thrilled with the production Davis brings.


I don’t know, the numbers that Bonds put up in his final season in the bigs at age 42 (including a 1.045 OPS) are better than the career best single-season numbers for any player on the Pirates roster not named McCutchen, so yeah, I’d still take him. Could probably still hit better than most of the Pirates roster (plus he walks a ton!!)


It has been seven years since he’s seen major league pitching, he would not come back and be anything like he was in 07


Ya he doesn’t have any home run ability lol


And yet half of his seasons in the majors have him hitting single digit HRs. Injuries aren’t an excuse either, its just another reason he’s more of a risk


Is it possible to have a conditional term? Such as if Davis’s OPS >.800, Mets get player A and if Davis’s OPS <.800, Mets get player B?

I know conditional draft pick in NFL trades is pretty common


Let’s hope Davis has the same impact on the Pirates offense as last season’s former Mets player, Marlon Byrd, had.

Also, this will allow CH to move Pedro back to #6 in the lineup, where he is clearly more comfortable.


“This makes no sense, as the Mets wouldn’t want to make a trade without knowing exactly what they’re getting back, including the health of the players coming in return.”

I gotta disagree with that, Tim. The key here is that the Mets HAD to make a roster move with a guy coming off of the DL. There is no rush for them on the return, so why should they take a player immediately. Perhaps, this PTBNL only takes a few days (maybe the Mets want their medical staff to take a quick look at somebody) or maybe a few months, but let’s take an “imaginary” scenario.

Let’s pretend the Pirates and Mets agreed on a list of 3 players: Taillon, Glasnow and Meadows. I picked these 3 guys because of the varying degrees of health, plus all 3 are of roughly similar prospect status, but with a pretty clear order of 1-2-3. Even though the Mets would be willing to take Meadows in the trade, wouldn’t it behoove them to have their medical staff take a look at Glasnow, to make sure there aren’t any long-term health concerns from his back? So, if he’s clear, then they’d take Glasnow over Meadows.

And from there, what if the Mets medical staff takes a long look at Taillon to see if he’s set to recover properly from Tommy John surgery. And if the prognosis is good, they’d take Taillon over Glasnow.

Perhaps that sounds like I’m making up a complicated scenario, and I would agree it would sound like that if the Mets weren’t dealing with having to make a roster move NOW. Whereas, they can afford to wait a few days (or even months) or the return.

Perhaps, it WILL turn out to be a 2013 draft pick, but to toss aside completely the notion that it could be someone else seems a bit premature.

Speaking of, are there any restrictions on team’s medical staffs doing evaluations of other organization’s players? Just curious.


The more likely if it is an injured player scenario is this; The Mets and Pirates agreed to an injured player provided the Mets are happy with his recovery and medicals. If the health does not check out they will get a specific non-injured player. However, I believe the most likely scenario is it will be one the 2013 draft picks not named Meadows or McGuire.


If they trade any of your three, there will be a lot of angry folks


Haha!! I know, that’s why it is just an imaginary situation, that seemed to fit my theory perfectly – an extremely high ceiling guy who is very injured, a very high ceiling guy who is kind of injured, and a pretty high ceiling guy who is currently healthy. This is the only kind of scenario that I can imagine a PTBNL to involved injured players.


Or at the very least,a lot of folks STFH !

Travis Persinger

t the end of the day the Pirates got better than they were 24hrs ago and the minors will have gotten a little weaker. Neal has done an excellent balance of this (with the resources he was handed) the last 2-3 years so I’m interested in seeing how this all plays out going into the June draft and “the call up.”

Also when that call up is made, there will almost certainly be a small trade made with Tabata or Snider.


I don’t understand. Why does everybody seem to be so sure that the PTBNL is from the 2013 draft? I think that the Pirates probably gave the Mets a list of maybe 3-4 players. The Mets will spend the next couple of weeks evaluating the players and then choose one. I see the player as being along the lines of Mel Rojas, Jr., Willy Garcia, Jason Creasy, etc. IOW, a second or third tier prospect. After all, this IS Ike Davis!


I like Ike. (well, his progressive income tax rates)


I see people speculating about Tabata and Snider. The PTBNL can not be on the 25 man roster from the time the trade is announced up until the trade is finalized.


The range of speculation I have seen on the PTBNL is borderline absurd, why would the Mets want either Tabata/Snider, who as you say cannot be the player, to New York media talking about the Pirates’s 2013 1st round picks.


No. PTBNL can’t be on active MLB roster.

Lee Young

Here’s the trade from a Mets blog POV


Nathan Swartz

If it is either of Meadows or McGuire, NH would need his head examined. Plus, the Mets have The Other D’Arnaud.

Can’t see it being either of:
Snider (hope not…not yet)

2013 DPs:

No on: Meadows, McG, Jones, Taylor, Dickson, Weiss, Frazier

Maybe: Barnes
Can’t see NH trading a young high upside starter right now, not with JT, Heredia, Holmes, and Glasnow in various stages of injury/recovery (essentially ALL our highest upside arms).

Lee Young

we can only hope, Tim, but I personally doubt it, imho.

Lee Young

” I liked Lambo, and wanted to see him get a shot. I think he comes with more upside than Davis”

I am 100% in agreement with you., Tim.


Foo ~ Someone said on the PG site, Lambo was basically handed the 1B job during spring training. Lambo whiffed. He’s still looking for where he put his mojo; I hope he finds it.


Tim: The dreaded PTBNL! I agree that Thornton is a throwaway even though he is pitching very well at AAA, but Mazzaro opting to come back makes Thornton even more of an unnecessary piece. Are we going steady with the Mets? Trying to build two minor league systems? Last year it was Vic Black and Dilson Herrera for Marlon Byrd. That turned out to be very good for the Bucs because Byrd brought a potent and clutch bat to the order down the stretch, and nobody really mourned the loss of Black, but Herrera was and still is a very strong hitting MI. Is it anywhere near possible that the Mets are looking for a “now” OF such as Jose Tabata or Travis Snider? Since the trade went down right before the game started, is it possible that NH and CH did not have time to counsel with the PTBNL? IMO, Austin Meadows, Reese McGuire, Blake Taylor, and Cody Dickson are 2013 draft picks that are out of the question – I hope NH agrees.

This happened at a good time for the Pirates bargaining position. Gaby Sanchez had just hit 2 HR’s, and although Ish was struggling around .215, he was playing strong defensively, and Andrew Lambo was looking like he could be a possible call up to ride the bus from AAA Indy alongside Gregory Polanco in June. I share your position that this eliminates any possibility of Lambo coming East, unless the PTBNL turns out to be Snider, and Lambo comes as an OF/1B/LH bench strength.


PTBNL can’t be Snider. He was on MLB 25 man roster when trade was announced.


If it is a 2013 draft pick, do we need to wait until after the Amateur Draft in June to complete the trade?

Lee Young

emjay…I think they have to wait a year.


A year from when they signed, not drafted.

Lee Young

agree…thanks for that clarification.

Joe Sweetnich

Would there be any other reason for the PTBNL to be other than a 2013 Draft Pick? I can’t think of any. And assuming that the player is not Meadows or McGuire, then the prime suspects are, in my opinion:
Blake Taylor
JaCoby Jones
Cody Dickson
Buddy Borden
Billy Roth
Neil Kozikowski (where is he anyway?)
Would any of these guys be considered “fairly significant” as John Heyman has tweeted? Don’t think so. It’s a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an engma.


I sure hope Neal would not trade JaCoby Jones. He seems like a high-upside shortstop. Ike Davis is mediocre defensively and has been a mess at the plate. Davis is an upgrade over Ishikawa, so I have no worries about adding him, but I hope the trade does not include players with substantial upside like Jones or Dickson.

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