Ike Davis is back in the news and it has nothing to do with being traded to the Pirates. It has to do with not being traded to the Pirates.
As is well known, Davis has been connected to the Pirates this offseason because: 1) The Pirates need a left-handed hitting first baseman; 2) Davis is a left-handed hitting first baseman who the New York Mets have let it be known is definitely available.
The Mets have been looking for a quality pitching prospect or better in return for Davis. The Pirates are flush with quality pitching prospects, a fact that naturally connected the two teams. It looked like a marriage of convenience: The Pirates would part with one of their prospects in the hope Davis could given them the power bat a contender needs at first base.
But Neal Huntington, dubbed ''the clandestine general manager’’ by MLB.com’s Tom Singer, is up to his old hard-to-get tricks -- not that there’s anything wrong with that. Other general managers also have taken such a stance and that has left Mets GM Sandy Alderson a bit annoyed.
"We're not going to move Ike just to move Ike -- or any other player, for that matter," Alderson told MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. "This is a trade market, not a yard sale. And right now, we're perfectly happy to go into spring training with Davis and [Lucas] Duda [another left-handed hitting first baseman] both on the team.
''Frankly, we're not that actively engaged in trade discussions involving Ike at this point. I think that underscores our willingness to go into camp with both."
Indicating his annoyance with some of his colleagues, perhaps Huntington, Alderson added, ''You can only ask someone to dance so many times before you get the message. We've been told by a variety of clubs that what we're asking is not unrealistic. But if they think they can get it or something else for less, that's what they're going to try to do. So be it. It's not like we're holding out for Babe Ruth."
No names have been mentioned, other than speculation, in connection with the Pirates and Mets. Obviously, right-hander Jameson Taillon, the Pirates No. 1 prospect, according to MLB.com, is out of the question. That would leave right-handers Luis Heredia, ranked fifth, Tyler Glasnow, sixth, and Nick Kingham, ninth, in the discussion. With Kingham being the closest to MLB-ready -- he should start the season in Class AAA -- some of the speculation has centered around him.
Whether the Pirates sincerely do not wish to part with Kingham or a similarly high-end prospect or whether Huntington is hoping as the season drew near that the Mets will lower their demands is not known.
But this much is known. A trade is more important for the Pirates. They, not the Mets, are the contender. They are the ones with the most to lose.
The Pirates current best option as a left-handed hitting first baseman is rookie Andrew Lambo, who is coming off an outstanding 32-home run season in the minors. But it’s the first time since 2008 Lambo has hit more than 11 home runs in a minor- league season so there’s reason to view 2013 with some skepticism.
Lambo might be the answer. If not, perhaps Travis Ishikawa or Chris McGuiness, two pretenders whose credentials and potential do not equal Lambo’s.
Alderson might have been posturing with his comments, hoping his stance would force some action. But if he’s expecting Huntington to buckle, he might have a long wait. Neal holds his prospects dear.
Huntington seems more than willing to enter the season without a MLB-ready first baseman. That’s not likely to make Alderson happy. Nor the Pirates.