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
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.