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.