The Mets are having trouble trading Ike Davis

When the Mets made Ike Davis available via trade, they probably received a lot of phone calls. He’s not as young as you might think; 2014 will be his age 27 season. But he has a track record of good power and a patient approach at the plate, and was fairly useful from 2010 through 2012. His story smacks a little of Chris Davis, who experienced a massive breakout in his age 27 season. Some team will want to take a shot on the Mets’ Davis.

At this point in the offseason, the list of teams with playing time available at first base is fairly short, which further complicates things for the Mets. As many as 10 teams could find a role for Davis, but only one wouldn’t be looking at him as a platoon player. That team is the Milwaukee Brewers. Unsurprisingly, their name has come up often connecting them with the Davis. Thus far, nothing has materialized.

The problem is that the Mets are supposedly asking for a lot. They want a major league-ready young pitcher—Tyler Thornburg’s name has come up as an example. But similar players have been traded for much less.

As FanGraphs’ Eno Sarris pointed out about a month ago, Logan Morrison has a similar profile to Davis and he was recently traded for Carter Capps. While Capps is an interesting player—he throws a fastball than averages between 95 and 98 mph and has a big strikeout rate to go with it — his on-field results have been poor. So the Marlins acquired a project who may have a future as a closer or setup reliever. That return is quite a long way from a decent starter like Thornburg.

Perhaps the Marlins just received a poor return or else really liked Capps? Either circumstance is possible, but when the Rangers traded their Davis, they packaged him with Tommy Hunter for a season and a half of old, injury-prone, and not-yet-reliable Koji Uehara. The Rangers’ Davis failed harder at the major league level than the Mets’ Davis, but that particular trade seems to reinforce the notion that a decent reliever is the right target.

Another problem with asking so much of the Brewers is that they don’t appear to be at the right place in the win curve. Player acquisitions are most valuable when the new player is helping the team win between 81 and 95 games. In the Brewers’ case, they appear to be playing for a win total in the mid-70s. An extra win or two off Davis’ bat is not going to change the outcome of their season. A breakout performance would be fantastic for the Brewers, but that is a very low probability outcome.

If that’s the best the Mets can do, they’re saying, they will stand pat. Unfortunately, that takes playing time away from Davis and Lucas Duda, further retarding the development of both players.

Duda is quite similar to Davis; they both project to bat around .230/.330/.415, which are unimpressive rates for a first baseman. Duda is a year older, but he’s also substantially cheaper (as much as $2 million less in 2014), which may explain the Mets’ preference. The Mets could continue trying to use Duda in the outfield, where he’s terrible defensively, but that just blocks the development of other players.

More likely, the Mets will enter spring training and hope that a contender has to replace an injured first baseman. That would give the club additional leverage in trade talks, which might be enough to extort a starter in return for Davis. Alternatively, the Mets could shift their attention to trading Duda for a reliever or simply trade neither player and relegate one to the bench.

First base isn’t the only position where the Mets are playing roster chicken. They have taken to trumpeting their satisfaction with incumbent shortstop Ruben Tejada, but they’re clearly the best fit for free agent Stephen Drew. As with the Brewers and Davis, adding Drew does very little to improve the Mets’ dismal playoff odds, so they’re obviously in no rush to meet the demands of Scott Boras.

Both roster dilemmas have been developing in slow motion, and that could continue throughout the remainder of January.

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bill neftleberg
10 years ago

Would the Brewers trade Thornburg for Davis?

Sandy Alderson cant afford to trade a proven 30 HR capable bat for peanuts

Brad Johnson
10 years ago

Let’s put it this way, the Mets have to trade more than Davis if they want Thornburg. Davis’ skill set is historically worth something like a high leverage reliever, not a starter.

Granted, I don’t see Thornburg as particularly great, I think the Brewers should be happy to sell high. Davis is still too little for a cost controlled starter.

10 years ago

The Mets can option Duda back to Vegas.

10 years ago

I see Davis being part of a package w say Gee and top AAA pitching prospect Montero to the Rockies for Troy Tulowitzki.

10 years ago

Obvious Mets fanboy is obvious Mets fanboy.  Davis’ value is very low; even when he hit 32 homeruns he was worth 1.1 WAR.  Gee is a back end starter and Montero is a good but not elite prospect.  Even with the injuries, gaining an elite player like Tulo would probably cost more along the lines of Montero, Syndergaard, and D’arnaud.

Brad Johnson
10 years ago

Yea I don’t see how that offer could possibly work. Even the adjusted offer looks light, although it’s probably a reasonable starting point.

The Mets and Rockies simply don’t match up for a Tulo trade. The Mets can’t afford to dump all their rebuilding pieces.

Delusional Mets
10 years ago

The Mets are delusional with their demands….Ike is a mess & has a complicated swing that is not easy to fix—-way too many moving parts.  Ike goes completely silent for looooong stretches of time.  I really can’t understand why the Mets think he’s got so much trade value – who would gamble on him when they don’t want to do it themselves.  Realistically, the best the Mets can hope for is a lottery ticket with some upside tool that may pan out if the starts align, LOL wanting a real prospect.

10 years ago

WOW, are we talking about the same Davis that hit .280 in the 2nd half, who had 30HR season 2 years ago?

Sone if these people are more delusional, a RP is at best a 1WAR player, Davis would be worth 2 WAR last year

Paul G.
10 years ago

The Mets are not going anywhere this year and a trade for a relief pitcher, even a good one, is not going to make much of a difference.  I suspect they see those pretty darn good half season “he figured it out” splits and figure he is worth keeping around to see if he can ever figure it out for a full season.  Plus, he’s a better option than Duda, who I suspect the Mets see as about the same value as Ike if Ike flops again.  Ike has a supposedly high ceiling, Lucas does not.  What is there to lose to ask for the moon?

Then again, the Mets may be having flashbacks to the 1970s when they unloaded several high ceiling prospects just in time for said prospects to really break out and got precious little in return.  I doubt the Mets want the story of 2014 to be “Ike Davis hits 50 home runs for the Brewers while the guy we got back stinks.”  Better to have Mr. Davis stink up the place in person at this point.

Eric R
10 years ago

“Duda is quite similar to Davis; they both project to bat around .230/.330/.415, which are unimpressive rates for a first baseman.”

2013 average 1B, per fangraphs: .254/.332/.430

The .024 difference in batting average is 12 hits per 500 AB.  The projected ISO vs the 2013 first-baseman league average is close, favoring Ike/Duda by a couple of points [.185 vs .176, so those 12 hits are all singles. 

The similar OBP suggest that Ike/Duda would be expected to add an extra 12 walks.

While 12 walks aren’t as valuable as 12 singles, I’m unsure that the gap is so large that you’d call it “unimpressive”.

Slightly below average still sounds like a deal for $2-4M [in a world where 2 WAR players would be going for $10-12M].

And if they are to be paired up in a platoon that limits some of their weaknesses, they might be even a touch more valuable…

Paul G.
10 years ago

Davis and Duda both bat left, so there is no platoon option with each other.  Josh Satin would be the platoon partner, and he was a pretty good option last year.

But, yes, the Mets should probably move Davis or Duda.  Duda is a terrible outfielder and would be much more comfortable at first.  Put him in his natural position and perhaps he blossoms.  Not holding my breath on that, but it is in the realm of possibility.  With Davis around that is not going to happen.  The thing is I don’t know if anyone else wants Duda at all.  The way the Mets have treated him I get the impression that he is very available but on the Mets he remains still.

Eric R
10 years ago

This is about their trade value, so when I say “paired-up”, I mean the traded one paired up with another player on his new team, not with each other.

My point was that if the projections are reasonable, they aren’t far off from average on their own, and perhaps with someone to handle LHP, would make an above average overall 1B solution [as opposed to being just “unimpressive” as the article states.

10 years ago

Yeah, I agree completely with Paul G.  The Mets need some high risk players to turn out and they think Ike Davis fits that.  Other teams see a player who was worth -.1 WAR last year and was worth only 1.1 WAR when he hit 32 homeruns in 2012.

It makes sense for the Mets to ask for a lot more than they would realistically expect back, and unless they lower their demands, they will probably still have him playing 1B in 2014.

Brad Johnson
10 years ago

That’s perfectly reasonable, in which case the Mets should be trying to trade Duda for a good reliever. There’s no reason to have both players on the same team. Josh Satin is a perfectly capable depth piece if Davis flops again.

Clearly, the Mets were hoping that Davis’ former prospect status would lead some team to overbid, but they would have had a better chance for success with that strategy if they hadn’t pursued a major league experienced starter. Now it’s too late since there’s only one team that really fits as a trade partner.