|Born: March 22, 1987
Drafted: 1st Round, 18th Overall, 2008 (Mets)
How Acquired: Trade with Mets (for Zack Thornton and Blake Taylor)
College: Arizona State University
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|Davis appeared to be the Mets’ long-term first baseman after a good rookie year in 2010 and a very strong start to 2011. He got off to nightmarish starts in 2012 and 2013, though, with some of his problems possibly related to Valley Fever. He has very good power and usually has good walk totals and a high K rate. When he’s been hitting well, his K rate tends to be around once every four ABs, and when he’s not it tends to increase to about once every three. He’s had huge platoon splits, with a career OPS of .598 against LHPs and .828 while he was with the Mets. Defensively, Davis is probably average at worst, and he has no speed. After an off-season of rumors connecting the Pirates with Davis, the Mets finally traded him to Pittsburgh for AAA reliever Zack Thornton and a player to be named later, which turned out to be 2013 second round draft pick Blake Taylor.
Davis got off to a slow start in his debut, with no HRs and a fairly high K rate.
Despite his weak debut, the Mets moved Davis up to high A and he hit well in the pitching-dominated Florida State League. He then dominated AA after a mid-season promotion. His K rate, though, crept up to one every three and a half ABs in AA.
The Mets sent Davis to AAA to start the season, but called him up in mid-April after an unsuccessful experiment with Mike Jacobs as their first baseman. He played first the rest of the year and had a good season. He showed good patience at the plate and his K rate wasn’t alarming.
Davis got off to a very strong start, but suffered a sprained ankle and bone bruise in a May collision with David Wright. The injury ended up keeping him on the disabled list for the rest of the season.
Davis got off to a miserable start and had just a .507 OPS on June 8. He may have been affected by Valley Fever, which doctors thought he might have contracted prior to the season. The medical tests were inconclusive and Davis himself stated that he didn’t feel any symptoms. (Many people with Valley Fever suffer no symptoms and don’t know they have it.) After June 8, Davis hit 27 HRs. In his final 75 games he hit 255/346/542.
Davis got off to another horrific start. By June 9, his OPS was .500 and he was striking out in more than a third of his ABs. The Mets sent him to AAA for a month and, after he returned, he hit 286/449/505 in his final 40 games while walking more than he struck out. He missed September with a strained oblique.
With both Davis and Lucas Duda available to play first, the Mets spent the 2013-14 off-season trying to trade Davis. Given the continuing financial crisis enveloping the team’s ownership, Davis’ $3.5M salary probably played a significant role in their desire to move him, but no trade occurred during the off-season, evidently due to the Mets’ demands being excessive. They opened the season with an undefined plan to utilize both players, but on April 18 they finally traded Davis to the Pirates, who’d figured prominently in the trade rumors. Davis took over the larger half of the Pirates’ first base platoon from Travis Ishikawa. Clint Hurdle platooned him strictly, which included pinch hitting for him nearly any time he had to face a LHP. He got only 35 plate appearances against lefties, including his time with the Mets, going 3-for-32, all singles. As in 2013, Davis continued to draw a lot of walks. He also cut down on strikeouts, but his power remained mostly absent. The end result was good for a catcher but not a first baseman. Davis’ numbers were hurt by a terrible (183/330/268) month of June and he hit a little better in the second half, posting a 232/327/440 line. Still, two years after his 32-HR season his power hasn’t returned and there remains the possibility that his bout with Valley Fever has had lasting effects, which apparently is a risk with that illness.
The Pirates will face a difficult decision with Davis. In late August, it appeared as though they might be in the process of replacing him at first with Pedro Alvarez, but Alvarez’ season-ending injury took care of that. Once the season ended, the Pirates stated that they still considered Alvarez a third baseman, but Josh Harrison’s emergence and Alvarez’ throwing issues make that statement questionable. With Alvarez, Davis and Gaby Sanchez all headed to arbitration, it’s likely the team will need to make a call sooner rather than later, which could mean Davis being non-tendered. Of course, another possibility would be a trade, but Davis’ trade value, especially with an arbitration salary attached, is doubtful. Barring a non-tender or a trade, they’ll have to sort through the first base options in spring training.
UPDATE: The Pirates designated Davis for assignment to clear roster space for prospects who needed to be protected from the Rule 5 draft. In doing so, Neal Huntington acknowledged that the team would go with Pedro Alvarez at first.
|Signing Bonus: $1,575,000
MiLB Debut: 2008
MLB Debut: 4/19/2010
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2017
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: April 19, 2010
Options Remaining: 2 (USED: 2013)
MLB Service Time: 4.155
|June 7, 2005: Drafted by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 19th round, 568th overall pick.
June 5, 2008: Drafted by the New York Mets in the 1st round, 18th overall pick; signed on June 24.
April 19, 2010: Contract purchased by the New York Mets.
April 18, 2014: Traded by the New York Mets to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Zack Thornton and a player to be named later; Blake Taylor sent to Mets to complete trade on June 15, 2014.
November 20, 2014: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates.