By John Perrotto
Now that the Pirates have been spurned by Derrek Lee, the Pirates have shifted their focus to the trade market in an attempt to acquire a first baseman.
The Pirates have interest in Mets first baseman Ike Davis, though New York wants rookie right- hander Brad Lincoln and center field prospect Starling Marte in return.
The left-handed hitting Davis was limited to 36 games by an ankle injury last season when he hit.302 with seven home runs, a .383 on-base percentage and a .553 slugging percentage in 36 games and 149 at-bats.
The 24-year-old made his major-league debut with the Mets in 2010, hitting .264 with 19 homers, 71 RBIs, a .351 OBP and a .440 slugging percentage in 147 games and 601 plate appearances.
It remains to be seen whether the Pirates are willing to pay the price the Mets are asking. However, the Pirates sorely need power as they finished 14th in the 16-team National League in both home runs (107) and slugging percentage (.368) this year.
Baseball America ranked Marte as the Pirates’ fourth-best prospect last month behind right- handers Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon and outfielder Josh Bell. Marte, 23, had an outstanding
2011 season at Class AA Altoona, hitting .332 with 12 home runs, 50 RBIs, 24 stolen bases in 36 attempts, a .370 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage.
Lincoln, 26, appears to be the odd man out in the Pirates’ starting rotation in 2012 after left-hander Erik Bedard was signed as free agent Wednesday along with outfielder Nate McLouth. Right-handers Charlie Morton, James McDonald, Kevin Correia and Jeff Karstens also figure to be in the Pirates’ rotation, though Morton could miss the first month of the season while recovering from hip surgery performed in October.
— The Pirates have some interest in free agent first baseman Carlos Pena but at something less
than the $10 million salary he made last season when he hit .225 with 28 home runs, a .357 on-base percentage and a .462 slugging percentage in 153 games and 606 plate appearances with the Chicago Cubs.
— The Pirates’ roster is already at the full 40-man limit, which could preclude them from making a selection in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft that ends the meetings. The Pirates do have interest in 24- year-old left-handers Josh Smoker and Phillippe Valiquette.
Smoker was 5-2 with a 2.31 ERA in 46 plate appearances with Washington’s high Class A Hagerstown farm club last season. Valiquette sat out last season in the Seattle farm system because of injury but has a fastball that reaches 100 mph.
— John Perrotto has covered the Pirates and Major League Baseball since 1988 —
Updated: 10:48 p.m. – Talks between the Pirates and third baseman Wilson Betemit broke down early Wednesday afternoon and the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight acquired infielder Yamaico Navarro from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for minor league pitcher Brooks Pounders and infielder Diego Goris.
The 24-year-old Navarro hit .264 (58-for-220) with 11 doubles, seven home runs and 22 RBI in 59 minor league games in 2011 between Pawtucket (Red Soxâ AAA) and Omaha (Royalsâ AAA). He also produced a .250 batting average in 22 Major League games (16 with Boston and six with Kansas City), going 15-for-60 with a homer and nine RBI.
The right-handed hitting Navarro was signed by Boston as a non-drafted free agent in 2005 and made his big league debut with Red Sox on August 20, 2010. In his Major League career, he has made 20 appearances at third base, 19 at shortstop and three at second base. Navarro entered the 2011 season ranked by Baseball America as Bostonâs 12th-best prospect. He was a mid-season South Atlantic League All-Star while playing with Greenville in 2008 and a New York-Penn League mid-season All-Star while playing with Lowell in 2007.
In six minor league seasons, Navarro has produced a .279 batting average, a .348 OBP, 100 doubles, 20 triples, 43 home runs and 264 RBI in 470 games.
The Pirates will announce a corresponding roster move on Thursday to make room for Navarro on the 40-man roster — Will DePaoli contributed to this report —