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Pirates acquire Davis from Mets

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

The Pirates have acquired first baseman Ike Davis from the New York Mets in exchange for minor-league right-hander Zack Thornton and a player to be named.

Here’s Davis’ official page.

Here’s Davis’ FanGraphs page for more advanced statistics.

Davis, 27, is a left-handed hitter with a lifetime line of .241/.334/.433 over parts of five seasons with the Mets. He also has 68 home runs and 224 RBIs in that time, although it should be noted that 32 of those home runs and 90 of those RBIs all came in a terrific 2012 season. He took a big step backward last season with a .205/.326/.334 line and only nine home runs in 317 at-bats.

No doubt, the Pirates would like to see Davis revisit that 2012 form, but be sure that the Mets did, too.

Here’s a video collection of Davis highlights from that season:

Thornton, 25, is a right-handed reliever who didn’t rate among the Pirates’ top 30 prospects, per Baseball America. He also was going to be needed to be protected in the Rule 5 draft this winter.

Here’s Thornton’s official page.

As with any deal involving a player to be named, there’s no way to discern who wins or loses. Being that it took the Pirates this long to get Davis — they were known to be discussing him pretty much all winter — one would think the Mets were holding out. Thornton’s no prize, so it’s possible the Mets caved. But again, a player to be named can be almost anything. Sandy Alderson has done a good job of stockpiling prospects in New York, and I find it close to unfathomable he’d give up a player of Davis pedigree for a next-to-nothing reliever without something significant accompanying that.

This obviously spells doom for Travis Ishikawa, I’d think. Gaby Sanchez sat for most of the opening week, but you’ll recall that the plan all through spring was for Sanchez to be the main guy in the platoon, even if that had been with Andrew Lambo. That’s not entirely surprising, as it relates to Ishikawa. If Neal Huntington and crew had thought that much of Ishikawa in the first place, you’d never have heard of the allegedly cemented Sanchez/Lambo platoon.

Where the Pirates do well here is by paying only $3.5 million in salary this season, as well as having two additional years of control through arbitration. Not much risk is assumed.

The big question, of course, is this: Will Davis hit again?

The Mets obviously didn’t think so, or they would have kept him over Lucas Duda. In January, ESPN’s Adam Rubin compiled this string of quotes from scouts asking which player the Mets should keep. Duda was the marginal winner.

The pluses on Davis is that he’s got that power — never underestimate that as an enticing factor, especially if he could get it done at the cavern that is Citi Field — that he’s got a good eye in terms of drawing walks, that he’s solid defensively and that he’s young enough to overcome a season like the one he just had. The minuses are that he’s injury-prone, that he strikes out a ridiculous 24 percent of the time and that he isn’t wild about taking coaches’ advice or changing his approach at the plate.

That last one won’t fly under Clint Hurdle, I’ll tell you that. He’ll want Jeff Branson to be all over Davis, and he’ll follow through on it directly given how heavily involved the manager still is at guiding hitters.

It’ll be interesting to watch this play out, not just from Davis’ own development but also from how — and if — Sanchez can go back to his strongest suit of hitting lefties hard. Davis, by contrast, is lousy against lefties but has an .824 career OPS against righties. I know platoon is a dirty word to a lot of folks with the Pirates, but there’s no crime in a good one.

UPDATE 8:07 p.m.: Huntington says, ‘Hopefully, this is a move that solves our first-base needs for years to come.’ The GM also openly states that Davis will share the position with Sanchez, so Ishikawa is, indeed, out.

That and much more in Rob Biertempfel’s news coverage.

8:24 p.m.: The New York Daily News reports that the player to be named will be ‘more significant’ than Thornton.

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Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.

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