1B Ike Davis traded to Pirates

Updated: April 18, 2014, 11:41 PM ET
By Kieran Darcy | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- The Ike Davis saga is over in New York.

The New York Mets traded the enigmatic first baseman to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday, in exchange for right-handed reliever Zack Thornton and a player to be named later.

The deal was announced just a few minutes prior to the Mets' game against the Atlanta Braves. Davis was made available to reporters outside the Mets clubhouse as the game got underway.

[+] EnlargeIke Davis
AP Photo/Jae C. HongIke Davis will have the opportunity for a fresh start with the Pirates after struggling with injuries and inconsistency in his time with the Mets.

"Honestly, it's a little weird," Davis said. "I've been with the Mets organization for a long time, and made some really good friendships and stuff like that. That's the toughest part, I think.

"I really had a blast in New York. I made my dreams come true, childhood dreams come true, playing in the big leagues here. But it's just a stepping-stone. It happens to a lot of people, getting traded. Now [I'll] go help my team in Pittsburgh."

Thornton, 25, was pitching for the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis. He will report to the Mets' Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas.

The Mets filled Davis' spot on the 25-man major league roster with outfielder Chris Young, who was on the disabled list.

"We're very happy with the trade," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. "We're happy for Ike, in the sense that he'll get another opportunity elsewhere. It's a situation that we needed to resolve here, and we're happy with the return."

Thornton is 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA in four appearances at Triple-A this season, with eight strikeouts and one walk. An executive with a team unaffiliated with the trade described Thornton as a "soft tosser" and noted he was available but unclaimed in December's Rule 5 draft.

Alderson said the Mets considered taking Thornton in the Rule 5 draft.

"Thornton is going to give us more depth, and has pitched very well at the minor-league level," Alderson said. "He's not on the [40-man] roster so it gives us some flexibility there, but we're happy to add that depth. And with respect to the player to be named later, we're happy as well."

When asked for more information on the other player, Alderson was mum.

"Players are named later for a variety of reasons, so I really can't get into it any further than that," he said. "Because if I were to give you the reason why the player's [not] been named, it would lead you in the right direction."

The Mets had a logjam at first base, with three of them on the roster -- Davis, Lucas Duda and Josh Satin. Davis and Duda are both lefties, so the Mets were expected to move one of them.

Duda, 28, was batting .275 with three home runs and eight RBIs in 40 at-bats this season. Davis, 27, was at .208 with one home run and five RBIs in 24 at-bats.

"Ike has done some great things here in New York, hit 32 home runs one year, and there were a lot of positives," Alderson said. "But we think Lucas has the same potential, he might be a little more effective against left-handed [pitchers], [and] we think he can play first base well.

"It was a close call. This isn't something that was so clear-cut -- if it had been, this might have been resolved months ago."

After the game, a 6-0 Mets loss in which they mustered just one hit against Aaron Harang and two relief pitchers, Mets manager Terry Collins said he felt it was important the team resolved its  first-base dilemma.

"I wasn't surprised," Collins said regarding the trade. "Certainly we wish [Davis] all the best. He's gonna get a chance to play, and I know that's what he wanted."

Collins reaffirmed that Duda is the starter

"Lucas is the first baseman," the manager said. "Now that certainly there's nobody hanging over him, he can go out and relax and do the things we know he's capable of doing."

Duda was asked if the trade put him more at ease.

"Maybe a little," Duda said. "I'm gonna go out there and play hard every day, and the let the chips fall where they may."

Mets captain David Wright glanced across the room at Davis' empty locker multiple times as he spoke with reporters. Davis was a popular figure in the clubhouse.

"Ike's gonna be missed," Wright said. "I think that Ike would be the first one to tell you that things didn't quite pan out the way that a lot of us thought they would here, as far as the production. But through thick and thin, Ike's been one of the best teammates I've ever had.

"I think everybody in here wishes him well, and is gonna be rooting pretty hard for Ike. So hopefully what we got back will help us, and hopefully he can start with a clean slate in Pittsburgh and do his thing there."

Davis was a first-round draft pick by the Mets, chosen No. 18 overall in 2008 out of Arizona State. He made his major-league debut nearly four years to the day -- April 19, 2010 -- and batted .264 with 19 home runs and 71 RBIs his rookie year.

His 2011 season was cut short after just 36 games due to an ankle injury. In 2012, Davis got off to a terrible start, with a batting average below .200 as late as July 3. But he boosted it to .227 by year's end, with impressive totals in terms of home runs (32) and RBIs (90), leading to renewed optimism about his future.

Davis had another brutal start last season, batting .161 through June 9 before being sent down to Triple A. He was recalled on July 5 and finished the season at .205, with nine homers and 33 RBIs.

"It was fun. I wouldn't change it for the world," Davis said, describing his time in New York. "I had a great time here, I just didn't play as well as I should have. Now I get a fresh start, and hopefully I can get right back to where I used to be."

Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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