Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 12/23/13
Mlb-mets-dodgers-july
Ike Davis (Photo Courtesy of Andrew Mills/ The Star Ledger) Winter meetings have come and gone, and several names like James Loney are off the market. While the Pittsburgh Pirates still are in need of a first baseman. Garrett Jones has signed with the Miami Marlins after the Pirates designated him for assignment in November. What other options remain? Ike Davis seems to be the most likely candidate for the job.  The New York Mets appear to be actively shopping their first baseman, but they are looking for a young, controllable starting pitcher in return. Currently, the Mets have been talking with the Milwaukee Brewers and are asking  for Tyler Thornburg, but nothing appears to be a sure deal. The left-handed slugger batted .205 with nine homers and 33 RBIs last season. His numbers had fallen, but he had an OPS of .727 against right-handers, which makes him a sensible platoon candidate with Gaby Sanchez. Davis was a great defensive first baseman his first year, but he has not been able to repeat that the last two years. Mitch Moreland was another candidate the Pirates were interested in, but he doesn’t appear to be on the market at this time. With that being said, what will Pittsburgh have to give up in return for Davis? Nick Kingham seems to be the name being tossed around. The 22-year-old prospect recorded  a 2.70 ERA  and surrendered just one homer in 73.1 innings pitched in Double-A Altoona last season. While the numbers are good, it’s Kingham’s stuff that is impressive. The right-hander has an arsenal of pitches to offer. His fastball tops 97-98 MPH and has a lot of downward movement. This makes it difficult to hit at this velocity. Kingham has a good curveball, and a solid changeup. He is probably not a top of the rotation pitcher, but a solid mid-rotation pitcher who can give the Pirates 200 innings or so. Kingham has shown a lot of improvement during his tenure in the Pirates organization.  He has the command to became a successful major league starter. The Pirates have lots of pitching in the minors, so what is the big deal giving up Kingham? The truth is Pittsburgh does have a lot of talent in the minors, but Kingham is one of the better prospects. He is still probably two years away from dawning a big league jersey, but he can come up and give Pittsburgh several years of solid pitching. He may not shine like Gerit Cole or Jameson Taillon, but Kingham has the potential to be a solid mid-to-back of the rotation pitcher.  Some of the guys in the rotation next season may not be around past 2014. Kingham would be a good fit to replace them. Offense may win games, but as Pittsburgh demonstrated last year, pitching is just as important. The Pirates pitchers picked up a struggling defense most of the season. Besides their is no guarantee with Davis. What will a .205 hitter really do for the Pirates that maybe an Andrew Lambo can’t? Davis is just a big risk for a solid talent like Kingham. Maybe Davis may have a bounce back season, but that is doubtful. After a horrible start last season, Davis had a .954 OPS in the second half before going down with an oblique injury. While Davis went on a hitting tear late in last season, the Pirates learned with Justin Morneau that is not always carried over into September or the post season. Davis hit 32 home runs in 2012, but those numbers plummeted drastically last season. While struggling against lefties, Davis did have a .253/.345/.523 line against right-handers. Much like Pedro Alvarez, Davis can add a big bat at times, but he can be a liability as well. Alvarez offers a lot more value, which makes dealing with his struggles worth it. Defensively, Davis has not had much success over the last two seasons. He was brilliant during his rookie year,  but his poor defense the following years drops his value. Overall, Davis seems more of a risk than a sure thing. He doesn’t seem like he is worth giving up Kingham for. Lambo has been playing first base in winter ball. Staying in house, with him might not be a bad option.  The question with Lambo is whether he can perform, but it might be a risk worth taking going into the season.  

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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