May 29, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Mets left fielder Lucas Duda (21) doubles to deep left allowing two runners to score during the fourth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mets won 9-4. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Davis Dilemma: Deal Him or Deal with Him?

It’s the week after the Winter Meetings, and Ike Davis is still a New York Met. While early reports indicated there was a great market for the much-beleaguered first baseman, demand for Davis has steadily decreased as the supply of underachieving first basemen has increased; Mitch Moreland, Adam Lind, and Justin Smoak have also been put on the trading block by their respective ball clubs. Last week, Sandy Alderson said the Mets are “not in the business of giving players away,” insisting he would get an exceptionally fair deal for Ike. However, every day that passes in this market makes it all the more likely that Davis will be New York’s starting first baseman on Opening Day.

Thus, Mr. Alderson has a dilemma on his hands. The Davis Dilemma: keep Ike, hold out for a better trade, or cut losses and ship him off for peanuts?

Aug 8, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis (29) reacts after striking out during the eighth inning of a game against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Alderson is right by not simply leaving Ike on some other team’s doorstep. As much as he could benefit from a change of scenery, and as many fans who would gladly pack his bags for him, it is Sandy’s job to get the best deal out of all situations, not to follow the whims of the fanbase (as much as my family and I opposed the R.A. Dickey trade, without it we wouldn’t have Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, and five great months of John Buck). It is not good business to take a quick-gloved first baseman with such a high offensive ceiling and wrap him up as a Christmas present. Come February, if the Mets are still desperate to move him and have all the other pieces in place, maybe Alderson can get away with a Davis fire sale. But now, with a few holes remaining in the lineup, Sandy should look to turn Ike into something useful.

One way he can do this is to not look at Davis as a primary trade target but as a piece in a larger package deal. It is still early in the offseason, after all. Davis added to Daniel Murphy and one of New York’s young farm starters, maybe Rafael Montero or Jacob deGrom, and the Colorado Rockies may be able to part with Troy Tulowitzki. Throwing Ike in with either Murphy or deGrom may bring back Jed Lowrie or someone of that caliber. The potential of losing the entire right side of the infield looms, especially if any trade falls flat, but the Dickey, Carlos Beltran, and Buck/Byrd deals are proof of Sandy’s craftiness in the trade market. With some more time, Alderson should be able to find a proper match and send Davis off with dignity.

Of course, no one is twisting Sandy Alderson’s arm to trade Ike Davis. If no one is willing to put forward a good offer, Davis will remain with the team and compete for the starting job (or a place in the platoon) with Lucas Duda, Josh Satin, and Wilmer Flores, three other marginal major-league first basemen. Plus, as Pollyannaish as it sounds, it is not impossible that Ike could suddenly find his stroke again and become the slugger he was before his injury in 2011 and during the second half of 2012.

Based on all the evidence, and even keeping in mind the intense frustration if Ike Davis goes all Chris Davis with another team, Sandy Alderson’s best option is to hold out hopes of trading Ike in a package. Another big reason why is the still-untapped potential of Lucas Duda.

Duda hit 15 home runs in 100 games in 2013; a full season at that rate would give him 25. His plate patience is a plus (.352 OBP despite a .223 BA), but people dismissively point to the big man’s lack of aggression. However, now that he is back at first base and not trying to learn another position, he can focus more on his power and develop into the 35-homer guy Mets fans so desperately want. Sure, his glove won’t be nearly as good as Ike’s, but what good is defense if you can’t score runs? Besides, with the acquisition of Chris Young to play right field, the Mets will have good defense on that side of the field no matter who mans first.

The security that Lucas Duda provides plus the potential to fill in holes at shortstop and in the bullpen make Ike Davis still an obvious trade chip. For the sake of both the team and its first basemen, Sandy Alderson should not give up trying to find the right deal.

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Tags: Ike Davis Lucas Duda New York Mets Sandy Alderson

  • Ken Meoni

    Teams not willing to give up something good for Ike tells us all something. That teams are choosing to trade for or sign anybody but Ike, tells you something. But, I agree that he should be packaged. I still think that a three team trade would be best. It gives that wiggle room for all teams to get what they want. The Blue Jays need a 2B (Murphy). Ike to a team that still needs a 1B. Then go from there. The Canadian media is all over AA for not doing anything.

    • Robert_1970

      Seems to me Ike’s issue is the same as always. It’s the exaggerated hitch in his swing. I’m no Howard Johnson, but his swing looks the same to me as always, with the open stance and the exaggerated hitch that makes him start his trigger too early because he knows he can’t cover the outside part of the plate well enough. The concerns about Ike when we drafted him were focused on that swing and his being vulnerable to outside breaking pitches. I recall reading that his power potential was worth the spot we grabbed him at, but only if his mechanics at the plate were cleaned up. Not sure Ike was/is open to that, frankly, but i really don’t know.

      I do know that his defense last year regressed, & that should be as disappointing as his performance at the plate. The Ike of two years ago was good defensively, but still could have improved in some key areas (such as coming in on the bunt and stepping towards the pitcher better when making the throw to second on a pickoff). He has plenty talent. I saw him play three games in RF in the Arizona Fall League the fall before the Mets called him up, and he has a gun for an arm and good insticts on fly balls, which made up some for his lack of speed. That said, I am tired of talking about Ike and his potential. Maybe he can be our lefty pen rally killer. Only joking, but he also was a very good pitcher with a blazing FB in school.

    • Robert_1970

      Agree we need to include a second piece of some value in an Ike — or even Murph — swap to expect to get what a lot of us seem to wish we net.

      Murph’s value is limited and probably won’t ever be higher, sadly. I don’t see a contender giving up much for Murph if they want someone to play second full time. An AL team that can use Murph to split time between DH, 1B and 2B makes more sense to me as a landing spot for Murph.

      Don’t give away your chips, I like that strategy on the whole. Our problem is the quality/volume of our chips at the moment. We’d be in big trouble in Vegas. But I bet Sandy plays a mean poker game.

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  • rwdavis22461

    i say keep him play him only against Righty pitches. I do believe you can re up his trade value and then get more back in return. he is 26 turning 27 next year. I think he has more talent then Duda . Duda on base pct is misleading he clogs up the bases when he gets on. what he is there for is driving in runs if he does not what use is he?

  • CTJoe

    Will, I see literally every Met game. Ike Davis is not only not “quick gloved” he is a lazy, slow plodder who is vastly overrated defensively. Combine that with the fact that he was quite arguably the worst offensive player in baseball last year and one can only wonder why he is the focus of so much attention. He is awful.

    • Ken Meoni

      I totally agree with you brother.

  • Justin Brill

    Uh, Jed Lowrie is basically a worse, older version of Daniel Murphy.

    • Robert_1970

      I like Lowrie’s flexibility. Yeah, he’s older, but not by much,. Lowrie is 29, plays a premium defensive position adequately (at worst), plus has experience at second and third & won’t hurt you in either defensively.. Murph is 28 & is a bit below average defensively at 2B (at best) — actually, he’s well below adequate..

      Lowrie’s 2013: 290/344/446 15 HR 75 RBI
      Murph: 286/319/415 13 78.

      We’d have to add to Murph to land a guy like Lowrie. Beane probably has no interest in Murph, unless he could get him on the very cheap. I’ve enjoyed Murph but he is a DH highly dependent on contact & finding holes, not an attractive package in these days when teams carry a zillion relievers and a tiny bench. If his BA slips to .270, which can/will happen even in a good year, we’d see his SLG & OBP dip below acceptable.

  • chums41

    Davis and Murphy for Lowrie?? Daniel Murphy is a .290 lifetime hitter, Lowrie, a .262 lifetime hitter. Lowrie’s a pretty average fielding shortstop @ .971, Murph, playing 2B has a lifetime .975 fielding %. With respect to upside: 2013 was it for Lowrie. I’m not saying he won’t maintain those hitting stats, but that is as good as it gets. Murph on the other hand, hit .290 on a pretty crappy team and there is every reason to believe he will improve to north of .300 given next year’s lineup. To make a short story long, either trade Murphy straight up for Lowrie (which I am very seriously against) or use deGrom along with Davis because Lowrie could just as easily turn back into the player from 2011-12 that hit .248.

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