The Mets, tired of waiting for Ike Davis to emerge from a two-season offensive funk, sought to deal him away and turn over first base to Lucas Duda. They accomplished that Friday night, sending Davis to the Pirates for righthanded reliever Zach Thornton and a player to be named, who turned out to be 2013 second-round lefthander Blake Taylor.
The Mets’ top pick in the 2008 draft, Davis has hit .205/.329/.337 with 10 homers in 115 games since the beginning of 2013. Duda has 18 homers and a .421 slugging percentage in that time, but with his misadventures in left field, he gives back most of his value. Now he can play his natural position of first base.
“Ike has done some great things in New York—he hit 32 home runs one year and there are a lot of positives—but we think Lucas has the same potential,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told the New York Daily News.
Blake Taylor, lhp
As J.J. Cooper wrote in Ask BA, Taylor was the Pirates’ No. 18 prospect coming into the season. The lefthander was a second-round pick out of a California high school last June. His success will depend on adding velocity to the 89-91 mph fastball he’s shown, sharpening his curveball and improving his control. He is likely to begin 2014 at the Mets’ New York-Penn League club in Brooklyn.
Zach Thornton, rhp
Available in last year’s Rule 5 draft, Thornton went unselected, though Alderson said the Mets were interested in selecting him at that time. Thornton advanced from high Class A Bradenton to Triple-A Indianapolis last year in the Pirates system, going 7-3, 2.63 in 42 games (one start) with 90 strikeouts in 75 innings. His 7.5 SO/BB ratio ranked just outside the top 10 for minor league pitchers with at least 70 innings. He throws a standard-issue, low-90s sinker plus a slider, and he has succeeded in the high minors not so much with stuff but with strong control and tenacity.
Thornton this past offseason pitched in the Arizona Fall League, posting a 3.07 ERA with a strikeout rate of 8.6 per nine innings. But the apparent prize of the deal is the player to be named, which according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “likely will be a somewhat significant piece.” The Mets unsuccessfully sought righthander Nick Kingham, Pittsburgh’s No. 5 prospect, for Davis in the offseason.
Ike Davis, 1b
Age: 27. Bats: L.
Service time: 3.155.
Davis hit .271/.357/.460 (123 OPS+) with 26 homers through his first two seasons with the Mets in 2010-11, appearing to be a future fixture at first base, but he hasn’t consistently produced since missing most of 2011 with an ankle injury. Even with his troubles, Davis has a career .828 OPS against righthanders, making him a suitable option to complement Gaby Sanchez (.300/.398/.500 vs. lefties) in Pittsburgh. The deal ends a roller-coaster stay in New York for Davis that included contracting valley fever and grumbling from the front office about his late-night proclivities.The Pirates sought Davis in the offseason after they lost free agents Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau.