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Ike Davis Rumors
The Orioles are in Boston for a wraparound series with the Red Sox culminating tomorrow on Patriots' Day. Mike Seal, the agent for J.J. Hardy is in Boston this weekend, but the Orioles shortstop says it's not for extension talks. "He's here because his wife is running in the marathon, so he came out for this series to watch his wife run," Hardy told reporters, including MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko. "There's been nothing. My agent's here now and he hasn't said anything to me the last month or so. There's been no contact. Usually, he gives me the 'still nothing.' I think it's even past that now to where it's like, he doesn't even need to tell me."
Elsewhere around baseball this Easter Sunday:
- Tigers President/CEO/General Manager Dave Dombrowski couldn't wait any longer to see if Alex Gonzalez would turn things around, writes Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press.
- A reader asked John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter) if there's any chance the Reds might go after Gonzalez in light of Zack Cozart's struggles. That's doubtful, in Fay's mind, because Gonzalez doesn't offer much range at the shortstop position. Fay, in a second tweet, also doesn't see the Reds signing Joel Hanrahan.
- In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe speculates, after impressing teams in his latest audition, Hanrahan could hold out for a Major League contract. The veteran worked out for 18 clubs and impressed with the depth of his secondary pitches.
- There's no guarantee Ike Davis will see another 32-home run season with the Pirates; but, if it happens, the Mets will be reminded about it frequently, writes David Lennon of Newsday. However, the Mets finally decided on a course of action rather than have uncertainty at first and they must be prepared to live with the fallout.
- Davis is eager to play more often as a member of the Pirates, writes Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "It was pretty negative over there [with the Mets] for me for a little while," Davis said. "Hopefully, I can come here and hear some positive energy and start building forward and start playing better."
- Did the Indians make a mistake by not keeping Aaron Harang? The veteran pitched seven hitless innings for the Braves on Friday, but Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer defends the Tribe's decision. The 36-year-old, he notes, didn't set the world on fire last season and his release allowed the Indians to see what Carlos Carrasco can offer as a starter.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
SATURDAY: The PTBNL in the deal is likely to be a 2013 draft pick, Heyman tweets. He also notes that that player, and not Thornton, is the "key piece." 2013 picks will not be eligible to be traded until the summer.
FRIDAY 6:22pm: The PTBNL is "fairly significant," tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. It is worth bearing in mind, as Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com points out on Twitter, that 2013 draft picks still cannot technically be included in a deal.
5:45pm: A long-awaited deal has finally been struck, as the Mets officially dealt first baseman Ike Davis to the Pirates in exchange for minor league righty Zack Thornton and a player to be named later. A deal involving the struggling Davis has long been rumored, with the Pirates long said to be a likely trade partner.
For New York, the departure of Davis means that the club will move ahead with Lucas Duda as its regular first baseman, a role that he had taken on early in 2014. It also marks the end to an ultimately disappointing tenure in New York for the 27-year-old, left-handed hitting slugger.
Meanwhile, the Pirates will take on the $3.14MM left on Davis's 2014 salary, and will control his rights via arbitration through 2016. Davis will presumably work in some form of platoon with the right-handed hitting Gaby Sanchez, who the club picked up after he too took steps backward after a promising early career.
Once a top-100 prospect, Davis raised expectations with a strong rookie campaign in 2010, in which he hit .264/.351/.440 with 19 home runs over 601 plate appearances at age 23. He was off to a hot start the next year, hitting .302/.383/.543, before he was sidelined with ankle issues. Before the 2012 season, Davis reportedly contracted valley fever, but nevertheless managed to hit 32 long balls in 584 trips to the dish. But his OBP dropped to .308 that year, and he has not returned to form since. Over 407 MLB plate appearances in 2013-14, Davis has just a .205/.329/.337 line with 10 home runs and a rising strikeout problem (he reached a career-high 26.8% K% last year.)
Thornton is a 25-year-old reliever who was working in Triple-A this season after reaching that level late last year for the first time. He did not appear on Baseball America's list of the Bucs' top prospects this year or last year. Pittsburgh acquired Thornton in exchange for Chris Resop in May of last year. According to Thornton's profile on PiratesProspects.com, he has been much more effective against same-handed hitters in his minor league career.
As the profile also notes, Thornton was left unprotected in this year's Rule 5 draft but was not selected even after a good showing in the Arizona Fall League. While he should provide depth to a struggling Mets pen, he seems a disappointing return for a player of Davis's former promise. It remains to be seen, of course, whether the PTBNL can bring additional value to the Mets.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first tweeted that a deal was in the works. Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (Twitter links) first reported that the deal was done, and that one or two prospects would head back to New York.
The Pirates hope that Ike Davis will be a long-term solution for them at first base, but they aren't giving up on prospect Andrew Lambo, Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune-Review reports (Twitter links). "Hopefully, (Ike Davis) is a move that solves our first base needs for years to come," GM Neal Huntington says. "We still think Lambo is going to be good big league player. Right now Davis is better fit for us. We'll see how it plays out." Lambo had been the presumed starter against right-handed hitters, but he headed back to the minors after a disappointing spring training. He can also play outfield, although the Pirates appear to be set for the foreseeable future there, with Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen taking two positions and Gregory Polanco soon taking another. Here's more on the trade.
- An executive from another team points out to ESPN New York's Adam Rubin (on Twitter) that Zack Thornton, the minor-league pitcher the Mets acquired in the deal, was eligible for last year's Rule 5 Draft but was not selected. Thornton is now in his age-26 season and has posted great stats in the high minors, so he seemed like a good candidate to be selected in the Rule 5. That every team passed on him might indicate that they aren't enamored of his upside. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that the PTBNL in the deal will be "fairly significant," as CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweeted yesterday.
- Davis has mixed feelings about the trade, Kevin Kernan of the New York Post reports. "It’s weird, I’ve been with the Mets a long time and made some good friendships," says Davis. "I’m excited. I know a couple of guys [in Pittsburgh] and they have a great young team. Some good veterans too. I’m looking forward to playing and hopefully helping them win."
- Davis' agents at Octagon encouraged the trade, Heyman tweets.
Mets first baseman Ike Davis might make sense for the Yankees, Newsday's Anthony Rieber writes, suggesting that the Yankees could give up a hard-throwing reliever like Dellin Betances for him. While Mark Teixeira is out with a hamstring injury, Davis would be a good replacement for the Yankees since his left-handed power would play well in their ballpark, Rieber argues. Until the Mets deal Davis, Rieber says, they aren't maximizing his value by keeping him on the bench. Here are more notes from the American League.
- Catcher George Kottaras, who recently agreed to a minor-league deal with the Indians, will make $950K if he's on the big-league roster, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets. Kottaras can also receive as much as $50K in incentives based on games played. He can opt out of the deal on April 30 if he isn't added to the roster by then.
- Brian Omogrosso's agency, MCA, says (via Twitter) that the pitcher is drawing interest from the Yankees, Rangers and Blue Jays after pitching at a showcase Friday in Arizona. The White Sox recently released Omogrosso. He appeared in 37 1/3 innings for them in the past two seasons, posting a 5.54 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9.
The Mets still see dealing first baseman Ike Davis as their "likely endgame," Andy Martino of New York Daily News tweets. They would still like to receive a good return for him, however. Martino had previously reported that the Mets would give Lucas Duda an extended tryout at first base, leaving Davis without a position. Martino writes in a follow-up piece that the Orioles once offered offered Zach Britton for Davis, although that offer is no longer pending.
The Pirates, who tonight will start Travis Ishikawa at first base for the fourth straight game to start the season, remain an obvious potential trade partner if the Mets do decide to trade Davis. Trade rumors surrounding Davis decreased in volume this spring after he spent much of March working through a calf injury. Davis, 27, hit a disappointing .205/.326/.334 in 377 plate appearances for the Mets last season, although he hit .286/.449/.505 in the second half.
Chris Young's tenure with the Mets isn't off to an ideal start, as the outfielder has already been placed on the disabled list with a quad injury sustained in the cold weather on Wednesday. Young called the situation a "bad dream" when talking with MLB.com's Anthony DiComo, who also spoke to manager Terry Collins about the $7.25MM man's early DL stint. More on the Amazin's as some teams wrap up their opening series…
- Manager Terry Collins told reporters earlier today that the Mets will give one first baseman a chance to prove himself beginning tomorrow, and Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports that it will be Lucas Duda, not Ike Davis (Twitter links). Duda will be given a "real shot" to prove he can hold the job down, according to Martino.
- Bobby Abreu's minor league deal with the Mets is worth $800K, and he can opt out if not on the Major League roster by April 30, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter). Abreu signed with the Mets after his release from the Phillies late last month.
- The Mets' bullpen woes only increased today, as a variety of arms struggled once again in action against the Nationals. The focal point of that general concern, of course, is injured closer Bobby Parnell, who figures to be out for at least six weeks and possibly much longer. As Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes, replacing Parnell is a delicate balancing act. An outside addition is always possible, of course, but the options are limited. And while the team may well look to some young arms to bolster the MLB relief corps before long, it will need to be careful not to stunt the development of the team's key prospects.
- Martino also examined Bartolo Colon's importance to the Mets, and in doing so revealed that the Mets were the only club to offer Colon a multi-year deal. The Mets knew they needed to overpay after five losing seasons, according to Martino, who adds that Tim Hudson was willing to pitch for the Mets earlier in the offseason prior to signing a two-year, $23MM deal with the Giants.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
The average value of a Major League Baseball franchise is now $811MM, a rise of nine percent from 2013 that can be largely attributed to an increase in TV revenue, according to Forbes Magazine's Mike Ozanian. For the 17th straight year, the Yankees (worth $2.5 billion) top Forbes' annual valuation of baseball's franchises. The Dodgers ($2 billion), Red Sox ($1.5 billion), Cubs ($1.2 billion) and Giants ($1 billion) also hit the ten-figure mark, while the Rays had the lowest value at $485MM. The Mets, Marlins and Astros were the only three franchises who saw their values drop from last year's Forbes rankings.
Here's some more news from around baseball…
- Starlin Castro says he's open to moving from shortstop to accommodate star prospect Javier Baez, CSN Chicago's David Kaplan reports. "If I need to move positions, I'm OK with that," Castro said. "If he is on our team and him being there helps the team win, then I am fine with that. I just want our team to win. That's it." There had been speculation that Baez would see time at second base at Triple-A this season in preparation for a position switch of his own, though Cubs manager Rick Renteria stated that Baez would play short in the minors. Widely considered one of baseball's top prospects, Baez has a .903 OPS in 916 minor league PA and hit even better during the Cubs' Spring Training camp this year.
- The Mets' inability to find a trade partner for Ike Davis last winter means that the club is now in the awkward situation of finding playing time for both Davis and Lucas Duda at first base, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Neither left-handed slugger hits southpaws well, so while Josh Satin will start against lefties, Davis and Duda will have to divvy up the starts against right-handers.
- Astros manager Bo Porter said today that the club's top waiver claim priority was keeping them from finalizing the rotation, and general manager Jeff Luhnow went into more detail with reporters (including Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle) about his team's examination of the waiver wire. "I will tell you that these days we’re meeting every day at least once…probably twice, and we get input from the staff and do our research," Luhnow said. “This is the time of year with clubs setting their 25-man roster in the next couple days that every other guy that’s out of options comes available, and we’re going to look at it seriously because it’s a way that we can fill the team.”
- The Rangers, Athletics, Rockies, Angels and Diamondbacks all made notable moves this offseason that could prove to be mistakes within a few seasons or even in 2014, opines ESPN's Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required). Colorado might've broken even in Bowden's eyes, though, since the Rockies are also on the good end of one of those "backfire" transactions.
- When a number of scouts, managers and other baseball personnel were asked “Were there any young players you watched and said, ‘this guy has a chance to be a star?’” by Peter Gammons, the name most often cited was Carlos Correa. The Astros shortstop headlines the top 10 list, though Cubs fans will be excited to know that Kris Bryant, Baez and Albert Almora all cracked the top seven.
The Mets have decided to place both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda on their Opening Day roster, Kristie Ackert of New York Daily News writes. GM Sandy Alderson did not confirm which of the two would start at first base. Davis, in particular, has frequently been the subject of trade rumors, and the Pirates have been connected to Davis and have a notably unsettled first-base situation. But it appears Davis may remain a Met for now. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- The Nationals are one of several teams to touch base with infielder Kevin Frandsen, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post tweets. Frandsen recently opted for free agency after the Phillies outrighted him. Frandsen hit .234/.296/.341 in 278 plate appearances while playing every infield position but shortstop for Philadelphia last year.
- The trade of Alex Gonzalez to the Tigers was a "gem" from the Orioles' perspective, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun writes. The move demonstrates one reason it makes sense for organizations to sign lots of players to minor-league deals, Connolly suggests — the Orioles signed Gonzalez with little risk, then were able to flip him for a potentially useful, versatile, cost-controlled player in Lombardozzi.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders why pitchers seem to be hitting the disabled list at a higher rate throughout the minor and major leagues. Not only are young pitchers including Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Jarrod Parker, and Bruce Rondon undergoing Tommy John surgery this spring, but Medlen and Beachy are actually having the surgery for a second time. “I think pitchers are getting abused at a younger age,” Hall of Famer Tom Glavine told Cafardo. “Most of them are max-effort guys, so it reaches the point where the stress finally causes a breaking point.” More from today's column..
- The Mets do not anticipate a deal involving first baseman Ike Davis. The Mets resumed gauging interest in Davis last week but so far, no inquiries have really blown them away. The Orioles are still among the clubs with interest.
- Joel Hanrahan has shifted his training base to Tampa, moving toward his first showcase for teams, which should happen shortly. The Red Sox have some interest in bringing back Hanrahan, but with teams like the Tigers, Orioles, and Yankees in need of back-end relievers, he probably won't wind up back in Boston.
- Twins pitcher Vance Worley, who is out of options, was placed on waivers Friday, then outrighted to Triple-A when he cleared. Minnesota may still deal Worley and a return to the Phillies would not be out of the question.
Mets first baseman Ike Davis is playing in a regular spring training game today, ESPN New York's Adam Rubin tweets. Davis has been out of action, at least in Grapefruit League games, since early March due to a calf injury. His return could be significant, since he has long been a trade candidate. Two days ago, the Mets were reportedly making calls to assess interest in Davis, but it seemed unlikely they would trade him until he was ready to return from injury. The Pirates, who are in need of a left-handed first base option, potentially could be a trade partner. Here are more notes on the Mets.
- The Mets still have to decide between Davis and Lucas Duda, and now have little time to do so, given the injuries to both players, Andy Martino of New York Daily News writes. Martino reports that the Mets are more likely to trade Davis than Duda, but are open to dealing either one.
- Martino also says scouts believe Ruben Tejada could be a good player if removed from the New York market. "The way I look at Tejada, he could be OK, but he needs to get out of New York," says a scout. "A classic change-of-scenery guy." The Mets continue to watch the markets for Nick Franklin and Didi Gregorius (who would be available via trade) and Stephen Drew (via free agency), but are unlikely to play the prices required for any of those players.