Ike realizes trade is possible, wants to stay with Mets
GM Alderson has said that one of Davis, Duda likely won't be on club's 2014 roster
NEW YORK -- The text messages that stream across Ike Davis' cell phone on a weekly basis are reminder enough from family and friends. He understands there is a strong likelihood that he will be traded this winter, that he has already played his last game as a Met.
Davis has come to terms with what he considers an uncomfortable situation.
"I just want a chance to play," Davis said earlier this week in a telephone interview. "Honestly, I've loved my time with the Mets. I'm still a Met right now and I don't want to get traded. But that part of the game is not up to us. You want to stay, but you don't have any say in it."
Mets officials have openly stated that either Davis or Lucas Duda will be back at first base for the team next season, but likely not both. And general manager Sandy Alderson has noted that the decision may depend as much upon how other teams view those two as how the Mets do; with so many other needs across the diamond, Alderson will seek out the trade with the strongest return.
That means a deal for Davis is likely. A former first-round Draft pick just one year removed from belting 32 homers, Davis is more than a year younger than Duda, boasts a stronger big league resume and has always been considered a superior natural talent -- despite talent evaluators' growing indecision over who is the better player.
Davis is also quietly coming off a solid stretch run, hitting .286 with four home runs, 28 strikeouts and 32 walks over his final 138 plate appearances, before suffering a season-ending right oblique strain on Aug. 31.
Prior to that, Davis hit .165 with five home runs, 73 strikeouts and 25 walks in 239 plate appearances, earning a Minor League demotion in June. It was the second consecutive year he opened the season mired in a massive slump, though this time, he was unable to fully emerge from it.
"I'm fine," Davis said. "I know I'm a good baseball player and I know I'm going to play well. I wish it can be with the Mets, but it might have to be with someone else."
Taking tips first from Triple-A Las Vegas hitting coach George Greer and later from former teammate Marlon Byrd, Davis says he realized late in the season that he was focusing on the wrong adjustments at the plate. Rather than making the minor tweaks that he believes would have set him straight, Davis completely overhauled his mechanics, at one point even attempting to remove the significant hitch in his swing.
"It's not like an issue of not trying -- I just think I was working on the wrong thing when I was trying to get out of it," Davis said. "I can't really blame anyone else but myself. I played terrible, that's basically the bottom line of what happened. I'm way better than I showed."
Had Davis picked up where he left off at the end of 2012 and thrived all summer, COO Jeff Wilpon almost certainly would have included him on his recent list of players with guaranteed jobs heading into next season. Instead, Davis ranks among the organization's most significant question marks.
Committing to Davis could mean enduring another slump-ridden season. Trading him could mean watching him fulfill his potential somewhere else, as the Rangers have seen Chris Davis -- a left-handed slugger with a comparable skill set -- do with the Orioles. Which is why Alderson may be content to let other teams make the decision for him, focusing on a potential trade's return more than on what he might relinquish.
"We have two guys now that have demonstrated flashes of their potential, and at some point ... you've got to make a choice," Alderson said. "We're in the process of doing that. To some extent, that will be an internal decision; to some extent, it will be a function of the marketplace."
As for Davis, the first baseman is busying himself putting on weight while working his core into shape back home in Arizona, his strained right oblique now fully healed. He spent his past two weekends attending the weddings of teammates Josh Satin and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, also taking time to hunt and fish.
When he checks his cell phone, Davis often sees reminders of his uncertain future. But he ignores them for now, because there is no alternative.
"That's life, man," Davis said. "You can't just sit there and cry -- you've just got to move on. Like this year: I'm not going to sit here and pout because I've been bad. No, I'm going to work my butt off and see if I can be better next year. That's the only way to live life."