Friday night, Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington made the move to get the first baseman he has long been after, when the Bucs finalized a trade to bring Ike Davis to Pittsburgh from the New York Mets.
The Bucs were linked to Davis on numerous occasions all offseason and during spring training and I didn’t like the idea then and don’t like it much better now.
To complete the trade, the Pirates sent right-handed reliever Zack Thornton and a player to be named later to the Mets. According to reports, the PTBNL is “fairly significant,” meaning the Bucs could likely end up paying a big price for a guy like Davis, who isn’t much of an upgrade over the current situation.
There’s a lot I don’t like about the trade, most notably the timing.
Gaby Sanchez is swinging a hot bat and has even done some damage against right handed pitching. If the plan is to go with a straight platoon, I would have rather gotten a larger sample size of Sanchez on an everyday basis.
Then there is the fact that Davis has been brutal lately.
Davis’ stock is about as low as it can get at the moment.
Coming off a 2012 season in which he hit 32 homers and drove in 90 runs, Davis has been nothing short of lousy since. Even during his big 2012 campaign, his OBP slipped to .308.
Last season Davis wasn’t much better, posting an OPS of .661 as he managed to hit nine balls out of the park. He’s not off to a good start this season either, hitting .205 with a homer and five RBIs, although in limited at bats.
Over 407 MLB plate appearances since 2012, Davis has a .205/.329/.337 line with 10 home runs and a rising strikeout problem.
The idea is to get a bat to protect Pedro Alvarez in the Pirates’ offense, not one that struggles to get on base and strikes out a ton. You don’t need two of the same hitters in the same lineup.
However I will give Davis the benefit of the doubt and chalk up his recent problems to injuries. Hopefully a change of scenery and the short right field porch at PNC Park will work out good for Davis in a hope to rejuvenate his career.
Yet I’m not counting on it.
While Davis is an upgrade over Travis Ishikawa, who will likely be DFA’d when Davis gets to town, he’s not necessarily the upgrade the Pirates are looking for as the search for a legitimate first baseman continues.
Davis is off to a brutal start to the 2014 season and the Pirates didn’t acquire him not to play him.
Hopefully everything works out and the trade turns out to be a steal for the Pirates.
Yet while Huntington did need to make a move, is this the right one?
On paper the Pirates aren’t that much better of a team than they were before the trade.
If this trade says anything at all it is that the Pirates are not very high on Andrew Lambo at all, which is a bit surprising but not all that shocking.
But as I noted yesterday, I have learned not to doubt Huntington and his staff as they have earned at least the benefit of the doubt.
Like most of his other moves Huntington has made in the past, hopefully this one works out as well.