After months of speculation, Ike Davis is finally a Pittsburgh Pirate, helping them fill an obvious need while taking a chance on some significant upside.
The only return on the trade that we know thus far is relief prospect Zack Thornton, a player who could have been selected by the Mets, or any other team, in this winter's Rule V draft, and a player to be named later, one which Jon Heyman says will be "fairly significant."
There is strong speculation that the player to be named later will be a 2013 draft pick, but as of now that's all we know. That the PTBNL will come from the Pirates most recent draft crop is not a guarantee, but it's the best information we have, so we'll run with it for now. We don't know a specific player, but the options can be broken down into tiers of significance and possibility.
Not Getting Traded
Austin Meadows, OF, Round 1, Pick 9
Meadows was the Pirates prize for failing to sign Mark Appel in 2012 and is a polarizing player for scouts. Some love his athleticism and see him as a five-tool center fielder while others question his ability to stay in center field and his bat speed. He tore up the Gulf Coast League in 2013, but has yet to make his 2014 debut, likely heading to short-season Jamestown in June. Regardless of where you fall on the Austin Meadows spectrum of evaluation, he's a legitimate prospect who was worthy of his draft slot and someone who the Pirates aren't going to part ways with yet.
Reese McGuire, C, Round 1, Pick 14
McGuire was selected after Meadows but broke into pro ball with even more authority. A premium defender at a premium position, McGuire is a major league regular in the making. His bat is no slouch either, and if he hits at all, he'll be an above-average catcher for a decade. If he hits a lot, he'll be a multiple-time all-star. There is no way the Pirates are including McGuire in this deal.
Thoughts: Anything is possible, but the Pirates have been reluctant to part with their top tier prospects in rumored deals for players like Giancarlo Stanton, so it would be shocking to see them part with one for a player like Davis, who needs some rehabilitation. If either Meadows or McGuire is included, it would swing this deal significantly in the Mets favor, but I wouldn't count on that happening.
Second Tier Options
Blake Taylor, LHP, Round 2, Pick 51 (overall)
The Pirates love drafting tall, projectable high school pitchers once they get out of the first round. Taylor doesn't quite fit into the same category as the much taller Nick Kingham (6'5") and Tyler Glasnow (6'7"), but at 6'3" he could see the same type of development (although those players were much thinner, where as, at 220 lbs., Taylor is already much more physically developed). The point is, the Pirates like to take their chances on these types of players because when they pan out, the payout is much greater than the initial cost. He doesn't have the highest ceiling, with a low-90's fastball and potential curveball that profile him as a mid-rotation starter at best, and being just 18, he's still incredibly far away from the majors. Those facts make him a possible trade candidate, but the Pirates tend to want to hold on to these guys in hopes of reaping the developmental benefits themselves.
JaCoby Jones, SS/CF, Round 3, Pick 87 (overall)
Despite being a college pick (out of LSU), the Pirates still aren't quite sure what they have in Jones. He played shortstop in Baton Rouge and played there some in the New York-Penn League last year, but he also saw some time in center field (he's only appeared at shortstop this season). A premium athlete, Jones struggles offensively at times despite solid tools. He has an aggressive approach that sometimes gets him in trouble.
Cody Dickson, LHP, Round 4, Pick 119 (overall)
Another projectable left-hander, Dickson was a college pick with a better feel for pitching than Taylor, but less projection left in him just due to age. Some command issues hurt his ceiling as a starter, though he's certainly within the developmental range of being able to stick there. He could move quickly as a reliever, and a plus-change-up means he won't be pegged as a LOOGY. Dickson has a live arm and if the Mets are looking for someone who can help quick, he's the best option among the Pirates 2013 draftees
Thoughts: This is the area where the trade can go from the Mets having given Davis away for nothing to them getting something significant in return. Anyone from the first tier is a win for the Mets. Anyone below this means the Pirates didn't give up a whole lot. But one of these guys makes it pretty even. I'd be more surprised to see the Pirates part with Taylor than Jones, simply because they love their projectable pitchers and their organizational starting pitching depth. WIth Jones, there's a chance he could turn into a nice piece, but there's also a chance he never hits enough to get to the majors. Dickson is a real candidate because he has a good arm and is a college pick, so he'll be ready to contribute more quickly than the others.
Trae Arbet, SS, Round 5, Pick 149 (overall)
A plus athlete who can stay at shortstop, there are questions about his bat and he hit just .174 in the GCL last year. A high school pick, still just 19, and very far away.
Adam Frazier, SS, Round 6, 179 (overall)
Above-average bat speed and the ability to play up the middle make Frazier interesting, but the Pirates are already grooming him for a utility role (playing him at second base as well) and that's probably his future role. Controls the strike zone well and could be an interesting piece, but not too much to give up for Davis.
Buddy Borden, RHP, Round 7, 209 (overall)
Starting for now, but likely a reliever down the road with a mid-90's fastball, below average command, and below-average secondary pitches. Could move quickly as a college pick.
Thoughts: There are some interesting players in this next tier, and even further down the Pirates draft board, but the Mets aren't going to get any kind of true impact player out of this crowd. If the Pirates gave up Thornton and any of these guys to take a chance on Davis, they took a good, calculated risk.