Taking a Look at the Current Market For Ike Davis

On the surface, it appears that the Milwaukee Brewers might be moving on from Ike Davis. In the last week the Brewers have signed Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay, with the latter signing taking place today. Reynolds has crushed left-handers in his career, while Overbay has done a decent job against right-handers (although not so much during his time in Pittsburgh).

The fact that the Brewers have signed two first basemen doesn’t mean they’re absolutely moving on from Davis. But they’ve been balking at the asking price from the Mets for over a month, with the reported price being starting pitcher Tyler Thornburg.

Meanwhile, we haven’t heard much about the Pirates looking at first base. The last move on that front was the addition of Chris McGuiness via trade from the Rangers. I wouldn’t say that the Pirates are prepared to go into the season with Andrew Lambo as their first baseman and McGuiness as the backup, but right now that looks to be the plan if they don’t add anyone else.

The Mets have been demanding a high asking price for Davis, who isn’t exactly a guaranteed first base option, and is making $3.5 M this year. You’d have to think that the price will eventually come down, especially when they enter Spring Training with Davis and Lucas Duda battling for the first base job. With the Brewers and Pirates — the two top destinations for Davis — both adding alternative plans, it seems more likely that the price for Davis will come down.

I really don’t think the Pirates should pay much for Davis. On Friday I wrote that the Pirates projected for 88 wins using the ZiPS projections. Andrew Lambo projected for a low 0.2 WAR. ZiPS has Davis as a 1.4 WAR player for the Mets, with 445 plate appearances. Just taking that number, the Pirates would see an improvement over Lambo by 1.2 wins, giving them a final 88.8 WAR, or 89 wins. So what would you pay for one extra win, when the rest of your team profiles as a contender, and when you could just hope that Lambo exceeds his expectations?

Considering what the Mets are asking for Davis, and the good position the Pirates are in, I don’t think I’d trade a big asset for him to get that one extra win. I’d rather gamble with Lambo and hope he exceeds his projection. Now if the price comes down to an expendable reliever, then Davis would make sense, with Lambo as a Plan B. So far it doesn’t look like the Mets are willing to go that route, but things could change if Spring Training rolls around and the Brewers and Pirates are both satisfied with alternate options.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • jaygray007

    I guess my thinking here is that 2 servicable Lefty platooners are better than 1. I’m fine if they go in with just lambo, but the team is stronger with 2 Lambos (or a Davis and a Lambo) than it is with 1. Davis would make Lambo the fall back plan as opposed to Travis Ishikawa. The Pirates have depth at every position (when you consider that there are UTIL guys who can fill in at 3b) except 1b.

    • jaygray007

      you totally said the same thing in the last paragraph basically. i’m very low on sleep today. forgive me.

  • weaver1028

    Who would say no to a Barrett Barnes + Jenmar Gomez package for Ike? As a Pirates fan I could certainly live with that considering the depth of major league ready RH pitchers and OF prospects the organization appears to have. Would that be enough to make the Mets think about it (assuming Gomez could potentially be in the running for 5th starter next year in NY)? I’m guessing the Mets would decline this offer quickly given the caliber of players they’ve been rumored to be asking for, but curious what others might think.

    • http://wkkortas.wordpress.com wkkortas

      I’d think that’s a reasonable price to pay for Davis, and I think that some point the Mets will settle for something in that neighborhood–the Mets are operating under self-imposed budget constraints that make Davis’ salary unpalatable for them (although given a couple of their FA signings, that’s curious, but…) They seem to be more focused on jettisoning Davis than the actual return, so it would seem likely that the asking price will be coming down once push gets to shove.

  • jaygray007

    now the bucs just need the O’s to bring in Kendrys to take out the final real suiter for davis.

  • CalipariFan506

    This has been my argument all along. The marginal benefit of adding the available 1B isn’t near the price.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

    Yep….a reliever or 20-30 ranked prospect at best. Plus, we’re not even sure what Davis we’ll get. Good Ike or bad Ike.

    If not, hopefully, Lambo will do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.brooks.581 Stephen Brooks

    Alderson is running the Mets on a pretty tight budget. He’s already been quoted that 40-man payroll will be in the 87M or slightly above range, which is laughably low for a team in the #1 market (They’re at 84 and change now, give or take). And as much as he doesn’t want to be taken in any trade, that extra 3.5 could help them sign Drew, especially if Boras is willing to negotiate a backloaded deal where year 1 Drew only sets them back maybe 9 mil.

    So Sandy can talk all he wants to about not giving Davis away, but he’s over a barrel. He can’t play both Davis and Duda, and he destroys whatever trade value Davis has by having him ride the bench. If the Pirates still want Davis, the price will ultimately come down to their expendable, zero-options remaining reliever, and maybe a mid-level prospect.

    • Y2JGQ2

      I have a better idea, how about WE sign Drew and finally have a decent shortstop. Mercer Can crush lefties backing up at 2nd, SS, and 3rd, and play when Drew and Walker inevitably get banged up. I’d rather have Drew than Davis, and we can certainly afford him

      • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.brooks.581 Stephen Brooks

        I agree that Drew > Davis any day of the week, but I’d rather keep the draft pick and address the bigger hole at 1B. The 1B free agent class next year will be a lot thinner than this year’s was. At least at SS you can make do with a league-average Mercer/Barmes combo until Hanson arrives in ’15. No such cavalry at 1B.

  • rburgh

    When all is said and done, Mazzaro or Gomez is going to fetch Ike, or someone of that ilk. And that’s a fair price.

    The Bucs should be planning to prep both those guys as starters during ST to maximize their value both to the team and as trade chips.

    There are literally dozens of Ikes out there, and pitching is always in demand.

    • Y2JGQ2

      I’d give up Mazzaro and a 30-50 prospect for Ike, nothing lost there……maybe Gomez but probably nothing else…… The mets could use either as a starting pitcher.

  • leadoff

    “There are literally dozens of Ikes out there, and pitching is always in demand.”
    Then why are we having a hard time getting one?

    • slider

      Jason Martinez over at depth charts suggests Jeanmar Gomez AND Barrett Barnes as an appropriate return for Davis. I know Barnes has had some injury problems but that is selling way low on Barnes and a trade I would not make. I still think that Morales goes back to Seattle and Justin Smoak will be traded to the Pirates. Remember the Pirates were after Smoak last offseason in the Hanrahan/Jones trade scenerios.

    • rburgh

      Because teams are reluctant to deal for pitching before spring training is over – either (a) they think they already have enough, or (b) they want to get somebody who comes out of ST healthy and pitching well.

      Another idea – Lonnie Chisenhall from the Indians seems to have lost his 3B spot, and they might be willing to move him for a bullpen arm or two. The transition from 3B to 1B is a lot easier than the one from RF to 1B.

      Other Ike Davis clones – Brett Wallace (Astros), Mike Carp (Red Sox), Daric Barton (A’s), Efren Navarro (Angels), and Jordan Lennerton (Tigers). All these guys are LH bats with experience at 1B, some have ML experience, and all are cheap.

      Teams need to be convinced they have problem somewhere else, though, to release assets – they don’t just make trades like it was rotoball.

      • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.brooks.581 Stephen Brooks

        I’ll give you Carp, but Davis has far more going for him than anyone else in that group. Davis’ cohort is more the Smoak/GFJones/Morrison/Moreland variety – and his career OPS is actually favorable within that group.

        Don’t believe for a second that Cleveland is letting Chisenhall go, no matter what you’re hearing about Santana. He may be platooned – and he needs to be – but he’s young, his walk rate keeps ticking up, the power is decent, and if the hit tool comes around to the point that he can consistently hit .260-.270, you’ve got a cheap, productive major league 3B, sort of a left-handed Casey Blake.

        • emjayinTN

          Please do not underestimate Chris McGuiness. A disciplined eye at the plate, a good contact hitter with decent power, and an excellent glove. He is still young enough at 25 to be a very nice add going into ST.

  • hardballbuster

    There are only two pitchers I would give up for Ike. Their names are Jeanmar Gomez and Bryan Morris. They are both out of options and have much less value in my opinion than Stolmy Pimental.

    Not to mention that we were hosed in the Byrd deal (so the Fets owe us right?)

  • Pie Rat

    Mike Carp avoided arbitration with a $1.4 million deal with the Red Sox. He was also part of trade rumors at one point, and I thought teams might be waiting to see what his salary is going to be.

  • http://www.facebook.com/benjaminmcferren Benjamin McFerren

    we just inked Travis Snyder to a $1.2 mil deal, thus closing the door on any Ike Davis deal.

    Unless of course the deal is Davis for Snyder

    • meatygettingsaucy

      I’m actually against trading for Ike Davis but I struggle to see how signing a RF to a cheap deal prevents someone for trading for a 1B making $3.5 million.

      • http://www.facebook.com/benjaminmcferren Benjamin McFerren

        its not about a RF as much as it is about the 25th spot on the roster and a left handed bat off the bench

        Lambo will be on the opening day roster and get the majority of the playing time regardless of what happens – he’s that good

        • meatygettingsaucy

          having seen Lambo, his potential is that good. He crushed the ball at AA when I saw him and posted similar numbers at AAA. That doesn’t guarantee him a spot on the MLB roster nor does it (along with Snider being signed) bar a trade from occurring. If the Pirates FO believe Davis or any other player is better and worth more than a Snider or Lambo, they will make the trade and adjust the roster accordingly

  • https://www.facebook.com/bruce.humbert Bruce Humbert

    I just think you have to let this play out. If Lambo does not have a good Spring Training the Bucs will have to do something – and they will have a pitching log jam – guys with major league arms out of options to negotiate with. BUT if he does have a good spring you avoid overpaying for the next GI Jones.

    My great hope is that Polanco has a GREAT spring and puts the pressure on the Bucs to risk the Super Two designation. THAT’s worth a 1-2 boost in WAR in my mind. Besides – lousy as attendance usually is before schools are out, think of the marketing value of having folks excited about coming out to see the new kid – and the best young outfield in baseball – surely that could sell a few thousand seats.

  • http://hiddenvigorish.com Hidden Vigorish

    “So what would you pay for one extra win, when the rest of your team profiles as a contender, and when you could just hope that Lambo exceeds his expectations?”

    If you believe in Win Curves then that extra win should be worth a lot more because the Pirates are contenders. I think Davis might actually project higher with the Pirates than on the Mets. Twice as many LH starters in NL East than in the NL Central. I wouldn’t give up a ton for Davis though. Maybe I’d deal from the glut of talented A Ball catchers not named Reese McGuire.