First base has been a transitional position for the Rays over the past few years. After Carlos Pena‘s first run with the Rays came to an end in 2010, the Rays have cycled through Casey Kotchman, Pena again, and James Loney last season. Cameron Seitzer was aggressively promoted to the Montgomery Biscuits last season, and may be thought of by the Rays as a possible first baseman for the future. However, Seitzer is likely at least a year away from being able to make a contribution for Tampa Bay.
As such, the Rays may once again be seeking a possible stopgap option at first base. As much as Loney personified the Rays approach to the position – someone that can get on base and play excellent defense. However, Loney’s performance last season likely pushed him out of the Rays price range. Now the Rays are in need of another potentially depressed asset to plug in to that spot in the lineup.
Enter Ike Davis. Davis had once appeared as though he would be the future for the Mets at first base, but has seen his production dramatically decline since breaking an ankle in 2011 and contracting Valley Fever that offseason. While Davis was still able to hit for power in 2012, he only hit nine home runs in 317 at bats last season. Davis struggled to the point where he was sent to the Las Vegas 51s last season, and has seemingly fallen behind Lucas Duda and Josh Satin in the pecking order for first base.
Davis also made over $3Million last season, and is heading into arbitration this season. For a team with possible financial concerns, potentially giving Davis even a slight increase when he may not be the primary first baseman next season. As such, he may not even be offered arbitration.
If Davis comes available, he may be the type of player that the Rays go after. Despite his struggles putting the ball in play, Davis still managed to take 57 walks while playing solid defense at first. With those skills, Davis may just fit what the Rays look for at first.
It is also possible that Davis is in need of a change of scenery. He has displayed the ability to hit for power before, with 58 home runs in his first three seasons, including a 32 home run performance in 2012. Should he be able to rediscover that hitting stroke, Davis could be quite the bargain.
Ike Davis, as recently as two years ago, appeared set to be the Mets first baseman for the foreseeable future. Now, he may be a possible non-tender candidate, and someone on the Rays radar for next season.