It appears the Pittsburgh Pirates are still looking for a first baseman via trade after the Winter Meetings. Jon Heyman reports that they are interested in Ike Davis and Mitch Moreland.

I wrote about both players in my recap of the available first basemen after the meetings. Personally I like Justin Smoak over either of these options, although Seattle has said they might keep Smoak. The Mets have been asking for a young, cost controlled starter for Davis, most notably focusing on Tyler Thornburg of the Brewers. I haven’t seen many public demands for Moreland.

There are enough first basemen available that it seems almost certain that the Pirates will be able to fill their first base void. Even if they don’t go for these two options, there’s the possibility that Smoak is available. There’s also Eric Chavez as a sleeper option if they don’t want to make a trade.

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  1. WOW. A 25 year old Rookie LHSP who made 30 starts, 167 IP, finished with a 10 – 7 record and an ERA of 3.52 who we have under club control for 5 more years and we want to trade him? I would plan to go into ST with Gaby Sanchez as our First Baseman with Neil Walker as a possible stand-in to play maybe 20 or 30 games at 1B. And NO, that is not the same as taking an OF and thinking we can move him to 1B. Walker is a Catcher, 3B, and now an accomplished second baseman. He knows the game of the infield mentally and physically.

    I made a position statement about Gaby Sanchez and his numbers at Miami in 2010 and 2011, and that his numbers in 2013 were very similar for the reduced number of AB’s. JRS above mentions that Sanchez had a .742 OPS against RHP’s in 2011 – even better against LHP’s, and has the glove to give us a solid defense. The Pirates can WIN with Gaby Sanchez. When teams get the point that the Pirates are willing to enter the season with what they have in place, and we get closer to ST, the prices for this “iffy” first baseman talent will come down. Think the Mets want to eat Ike Davis’ salary for 2014 when they have 2 other guys they like better at 1B? Patience, and Stay the Course. And, of course they always want MORE.

    • Agree…Mets want top dollar for Ike Davis.. They want the Pirates to eat his salary AND give then a young controllable pitcher. SCREW THE METS!!!

        • IC, according to BR’s page, he made $3.1 mil last year, so I assume he was a Super 2. He isn’t a free agent until 2017. That means 3 more years of arbitration, very rough estimates would be $4 mil in 2014, $6 mil in 2015 and $8 mil in 2016.

          • Thanks for the update. I would have preferred Morrison that ship has sailed. I get the feeling a surprise will fall into our lap. Lets hope so because none of the options talked about look very appealing.

    • I think the popular perception of Locke is that his 3.52 ERA was the result of smoke and mirrors, just dumb luck perhaps generated by that ridiculous-looking rope-necklace thing that so many players wore last year (please let that fad go away this year!), and that he’s nothing more than a batting-practice pitcher who is sure to get shelled every time he is given the ball in 2014. I disagree – maybe he’s more of a 4.52 ERA guy, but still, I don’t think it would be such bad thing to have Locke as your SP5.

      • Agreed mbl. Saber Buc has a good look at Locke’s season and what to expect for him in 2014. Will he be an ace? Probably not. But he can definitely be a solid #4 or very good #5 starter. And the team may need one of those. I think he’s too much to give up for Davis, and I think Davis is the 1B the Bucs should be targeting the most. I’d rather give Cumpton, if only because Locke may be the only LH starter for the next 3 years.

        • The Pirates will have a barren LHP cupboard after 2014 with LHSP’s Liriano and Rodriguez leaving for Free Agency. If we trade Locke, then we are down to Justin Wilson, who I would take over anyone in the Rotation except for Liriano and Cole. The kid is a winner.

          And, an aside to mbl about the “smoke and mirrors” – they only pay on the final score; you can argue coulda, woulda, shoulda, but the numbers are in the book and they say 10 – 7, 3.52 ERA. During April, May, and half of June, the kid carried the Pirates along with Liriano when others such as Rodriguez and McDonald were struggling, Morton was still in rehab, Cole was still in AAA, and AJ was up and down. If not for those two and guys like Cumpton and Gomez, the Pirates would never have been in the position they were to take control in the second half. The Mets are asking for a controllable #3 or better SP? Hopefully we are not buying that. Gomez is the best I would give.

  2. To say Lambo didn’t do anything prior to last season is just ignorant. He did struggle with a few injuries the 2 previous years but was solid after we acquired h and was a top prospect in all of baseball

    • Nope, never said he didn’t do anything…I’m well aware he was a top prospect in all of baseball and I like him a lot! I think he could come up and play, however he does have an option so he could go down to get consistent reps at 1b playing everyday. He looked great last year obviously, but the past two to three years did have to deal with injuries and didn’t have the chance to play consistent. He did start out slow down south this winter and hasn’t shown that power at all yet (might be working on something don’t know). Was just thinking might be a nice option to have him play every day against righties and lefties not in a platoon to start…no need to call me ignorant sheesh…

  3. I believe Moreland was assisted by a hitter friendly park too wasn’t he? Davis did turn it around at the end of the year so maybe he figured something else…let lambo start AAA at first and show he wasn’t a fluke. If he does the same thing again as last year then bring him up if 1b or RF falter.

  4. Sanchez had a .742 OPS in 2011 (the last time he was a full time player) against RH pitching. He got sent down early in 2012 in Miami, and really had a small sample size in 2013. Is it possible that Gaby could handle 1B full time?

  5. Just looked at Davis 2012 numbers….. Looks like Adam Laroche. Pirates fans would be calling for Lambo may 1 if he starts out hitting .18 with 1 hr

  6. Is there a firstbaseman out there that we’re NOT interested in?

    They’re all about the same. I’d still rather try Lambo unless we can get one these less than stellar 1bmen cheaply.

    • Word! Bring someone (low-cost) in to compete with Lambo in ST. They snoozed on Gamel and ATL wisely signed him – maybe bring in Betemit?

      • Haha, you keep bringing up this scrub Gamel. They didn’t snooze on him, they didn’t want him. He is a backup player and will be that on Atlanta. We need a starting first baseman.

        • Perhaps he is a backup player, or perhaps he will rake his way into the starting 3B job, who knows? He was widely regarded as a top hitting prospect before he injured his knee in ST last year, and 269 career PA isn’t enough of a sample size to make an informed judgement as to whether he can hit MLB pitching. Either way, it doesn’t cost ATL anything to find out in ST. It’s clearly a smart move by Frank Wren.

          • If the decision is to go with a once-highly-regarding-prospect-with-no-track-record, then why not just go with Lambo? It sounds like you want them to bring somebody into to compete with Lambo in ST, but I find that a scary notion because, boy it would be very tempting to read way too much into a small sample of exhibition games. If they have any faith in Lambo at all, then they have to give him real at bats in the big leagues to see what they have. So while you suggest that it doesn’t cost ATL anything to find out what they have in spring training, I would suggest that it could cost them if they end up making a wrong decision because Gamel hit a few meatballs over the fence and convinced people he was an acceptable 3rd baseman when in fact he was actually a bum. I am not saying he is a bum, or that bringing him in to compete is necessarily a bad idea, just that it is not entirely without risk.

            • Nothing is entirely without risk, but signing a guy to a minor-league deal is about as low-risk as you can get. If he rakes in ST, you’ve got yourself a backup 1B/3B. If he flakes out in ST, then somebody else is your backup 1B/3B.

  7. THe smart thing here is to go with Chavez, Lambo and Gabby……..and wait for the market next year to make a more long term committment. Chavez costs the least in terms of cash and not trading anyone PLUS doesn’t lock you in long term to a mediocre option. Plus it gives you a chance to give Lambo a shot now and again and flexibility of putting Chavez at 3rd to spell Alvarez when he’s lord of the wind.

    • I disagree! How is it the smart thing to go with an old broken down Chavez or an unproven Lambo? Lambo didn’t do anything before last year in the minors, the smart thing is to see if he can repeat again in AAA, plus he needs tons of work defensively at 1B. We are a contender and if we go your route we will probably be looking to trade for a 1B at the deadline. Why not make the trade now and have the player all year. It will not cost a ton and we have the depth to make a trade without even missing who was given.

      • It’s pretty simple actually. Chavez is cheap and has been surprisingly productive when playing. He would be an inexpensive short term insurance policy for the unproven Lambo. And the thing about the “unproven” label is that everybody is stuck with it until they get a chance.

        I’m not saying I disagree with your overall assessment – I think a Davis/Sanchez platoon could be quite good but that is no guarantee either. Without actually knowing the cost of acquiring any of these players via trade and considering none of them are without there shortcomings staying conservative and staying in house might be the best option.

    • The free agent market for 1B looks even worse next year than it has this year. If it’s possible to grab a playable bat for someone like Cumpton or Pimentel – who aren’t projected to crack the rotation the next two years – it probably makes sense to do it now.

      If Lambo rakes at AAA all the better. Better to have too many options than too few.

  8. Davis is a pretty good fielder…Moreland is ok and appears to be improving as he transitions out of playing the OF. My biggest worry about Moreland is his .740 road OPS and the fact that he hasn’t managed an .800 OPS at Arlington. Thething with Chavez is that he is an experienced 1B but I’m pretty sure he would be well above average there…but he would give you some insurance for Alvarez’ long slumps.

  9. Would definitely prefer Davis to Moreland. Yes, Davis really struggled last year. But, Davis has had an OPS of .771 or better in each of his other 3 MLB seasons. His lifetime OPS vs RHP is well over .800 as well. I also believe he is the better defensive player of the two, but don’t quote me on that one. Offer something like Locke and Bryan Morris and see what the Mets say. Between Gomez, Mazzaro, Morris, and Pimentel one of those 4 need traded anyway. All are out of options.

    • I agree completely! People forget Ike hit 32 hrs a couple years ago. He is only 26 with still high upside. Yes he can’t hit lefties but he can rake RHP and we have Sanchez to face LHP. Ike is definitely by far the better defensively than Moreland. NY wants to move Davis and we have tons of depth to make it happen.

  10. Moreland the last 3 years 0.9 WAR, Davis 2.3, Chavez 2.0. Chavez is still a 2.0 WAR guy when he can play and should be fairly cheap. Davis has 3.0 WAR potential, and Moreland should come dirt cheap. They all offer slightly different things and aren’t far apart in what they do offensively. Moreland, Chavez, Davis…roll a 3-sided die dungeons and dragons style and get it over with. I do like that Davis is still young and still has put up a WAR in the positive while playing poorly. A .250+ batting average and you have a pretty good player…a lot like Pedro Alvarez.

  11. I prefer Davis to all of the options. I will give Cumpton or Locke and maybe Morris since we will need to move a reliever anyway. I prefer to move Cumpton because Locke is left handed and Cumpton isn’t in the long term plans. His ceiling is well below 3 other right handed starters on the way in Taillon, Glasnow and Kingham. My second choice would be Smoak followed by Moreland.

  12. I’d take a shot at Davis. After being sent to AAA, he came back and had a really good run, before being injured.
    Sure, that’s no guarantee he’ll stay hot, but maybe he figured something out.
    I would rather have him as Gaby’s platoon starting the season, than Lambo (Lambo should start at AAA and be ready to replace either Snyder, Tabata or the 1B Lefty we get).
    Ideally, the Mets would take one of Mazzaro, Gómez, Morris or Pimentel in the trade! (we cannot keep all our relievers, because of Options…).

    • Hoping to trade a decent reliever for Davis is probably unrealistic. Thornburg started for the Brewers in September and did very well. He has much more value than Mazzaro, Gomez, and Morris. Stolmy would probably get us closer to a deal, as he was successful as a starter this past year in AAA.

  13. I think Brandon Cumpton is the best comp to Thornburg who the Mess have been axing for. In 5 starts vs. Thorn’s 8 Brandon has the same ERA 2.05 but a WHIP .4 less which is a lot. Cumpton has been a horse since being drafted and has size and fastball over TT. If they don’t like him for Ike they might rather have Locke which begs the question: would you rather have Locke or Cumpton as your #5 in 2014? I would toss either for Davis as he fits the need perfectly. Not a fan of Moreland.

  14. Can somebody explain to me the interest in Ike Davis or Mitch Moreland? Is it control and potential? It’s certainly not their past numbers. Other than they’ve been in the majors for a few years where they’ve been mediocre at best, I can’t see any reason to prefer either of them over Lambo. Sure, Lambo could be even worse, but he doesn’t cost anything now and you can always make a trade later if he busts. Are the Pirates just that low on him? Somebody help me out here.

    • That is my feelings about this situation. I get it we are weak at first but there is nothing available that is worth not taking the same chance as the team would with Lambo/Sanchez which will be a lot cheaper.

    • they kind of are exactly what the pirates should be looking for though. I disagree that their past numbers aren’t worth going after.

      Mediocre is all they really need, to be honest. Mediocre is better than what 2013 Jones was.

      Moreland had an ops in the mid 700s last year, and in the high 700s for his career.

      Davis had an ops in the low 700s vs righties last year (started awful, finished strong. up to the scouts to decide which was more real), and still has a career ops of .827 vs righties (it’s sick that i knew that .827 figure off the top of my head….).

      They both should compliment Gaby well enough. That said, platoon 1b are not guys who you give up a ton for in trades.

    • Yes, when i saw this headline today i thought, “when did Cam Bonifay return to the front office?” I want to pursue Mike Carp. To me, moreland, smoak, davis, etc are no real upgrade over Garrett Jones.

      • Wilby Lee Grounds
        This is Bill. I don’t know if you hang on here to read responses…Do you miss Walker’s field?

      • sox already said they would want a lot for carp. Also jones is out of his prime, these two are just going into their prime years. Also they are cheaper financially

    • I guess to answer myself and extend some other comments: I can see getting him if it can be done for a Locke or Cumpton. Certainly not a Kingham like I just saw the Mets want.

      Then Lambo can split time at RF and get a few starts at 1B, and if Decker struggles, he becomes your everyday RF against RHPs. Both Decker and Lambo have options too. Plus, injuries happen and it strengthens the bench. That keeps some pressure on Tabata too (which seems to make him play better). Spring training

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