Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Pirates have acquired first baseman Ike Davis from the Mets.
Update: Per the Pirates official Twitter, the Mets have received right-handed pitcher Zack Thornton and a player to be named later. Thornton, 25, was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis for the first time last season. There he finished with a 3.91 ERA in 25 1/3 innings, along with 31 strikeouts and four walks. To begin 2014, Thornton has a 1.23 ERA with eight strikeouts and one walk in 7 1/3 innings.
The Mets had a surplus at first base with Davis along with Lucas Duda and Josh Satin. Now that Davis is gone, Duda and Satin will split the time at first base depending on the handedness of the opposing starting pitcher. The Pirates were in need of a first baseman as they had been relying on Travis Ishikawa and Gaby Sanchez. Davis will displace Ishikawa, who has not been hitting well, and share time with the right-handed-hitting Sanchez, who has been performing well.
Davis made headlines last season after he started the year off so poorly that the Mets demoted him to Triple-A Las Vegas. Working with manager Wally Backman, Davis made some adjustments and came back much more productive, though his power didn’t come back the way they had hoped. Davis is carrying a .742 OPS as he joins the Pirates.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.