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December 19, 2013

Rumor Roundup

Who Likes Ike?

by Daniel Rathman


Mets hunting for power arms in exchange for Ike Davis
Since taking over the reins of the Mets in October 2010, general manager Sandy Alderson has done much of his best work on the trade market, exporting aging assets like Carlos Beltran and R.A. Dickey for high-end pitching prospects like Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard. This offseason, Alderson is working with a much younger and less-accomplished trade chip, but when it comes to the return, he has mid-90s heat on his mind again.

According to USA Today’s John Perrotto, Alderson asked his Pirates counterpart, Neal Huntington, for right-hander Nick Kingham during their discussions about Ike Davis. The market for the 26-year-old Davis grew clearer last week, when the Rays brought back James Loney on a three-year deal, leaving the Buccos and Brewers to vie for the Mets’ first baseman.

Davis buoyed his value by posting a league-high .449 on-base percentage in 204 plate appearances after the All-Star break, and while that gaudy mark was fueled in part by a .351 BABIP, the Arizona State product also sliced his strikeout rate and padded his walk rate considerably. Both are promising signs for Davis, who slugged 32 home runs in 2012 but has been exploited by pitchers able to find holes in his swing.

Kingham ranked ninth on the Pirates’ top 10 prospects list entering last season, earning a mid-rotation projection from Jason Parks, and proceeded to pitch well for both High-A Bradenton, where he fanned more than a batter per inning, and Double-A Altoona, where he logged a 2.70 ERA. Assuming his pre-2013 projection holds, the 2010 fourth-rounder could see time in a major-league rotation by 2015.

A potential no. 3 starter about a year removed from the Show is a lofty asking price for Davis, and if Alderson has floated similar demands to other suitors, it might explain why no deal has materialized yet. Even though Loney and Justin Morneau have found new homes, there are still alternatives to Davis for clubs in need of first-base help.

The Pirates have kicked the tires on a swap with the Rangers for Mitch Moreland, per CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman. Kendrys Morales, who declined a qualifying offer from the Mariners, is another option—at least in the eyes of his agent, Scott Boras—though his defense and the draft-pick cost are significant drawbacks.

If nothing else materializes, the Pirates could gamble on long-ago top prospect Andrew Lambo, who thumped 32 home runs in the minors last year and might suffice in something less than a true long-end platoon with Gaby Sanchez. For what it’s worth, Huntington told reporters at the Winter Meetings that the Pirates are “comfortable” with Sanchez as their solution to the void created by the departures of Morneau and Garrett Jones.

Did the Rays shoot for the moon in David Price talks with Indians?
Apparently not.

Buried beneath notes on NFL quarterbacks and the Cleveland Browns in a Cleveland Plain-Dealer column published Saturday was a rather startling tidbit: When the Indians inquired with the Rays about David Price, the “starting points” were Carlos Santana and Danny Salazar—and more, perhaps even Francisco Lindor, would be required to pry him away for the two years remaining on his current contract.

If the Nick Kingham-for-Ike Davis request seemed high, this price tag (no pun intended) would be astronomical, and columnist Terry Pluto admitted that it would be “a lousy deal” for Cleveland. Fortunately for the teams hoping to snag the 28-year-old southpaw, it’s also not true.

Marc Topkin, who covers the Rays for the Tampa Bay Times, heard from a team source on Tuesday evening that Pluto’s report was “completely off base.” It’s not clear at this point if only the demand was false or if the Indians never even called. Either way, the Mariners—with whom Price reportedly would not negotiate an extension—and other clubs looking for a frontline starter can breathe a little easier when they dial Andrew Friedman’s number in the coming weeks.

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Daniel's other articles. You can contact Daniel by clicking here

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