The market for Ike Davis narrowed Friday when a potential suitor came off the board.
The Rays reunited with James Loney, according to multiple reports, agreeing to sign the first baseman to a three-year, $21-million deal. The signing leaves the Brewers and the Pirates among the most likely trade partners for the Mets, who pushed hard to trade Davis during this week's winter meetings.
A deal never materialized, though, with the Mets expressing disappointment about the potential returns. Even with the market more well-defined, it remains unclear what the Mets can expect for Davis.
"The situation for players ebbs and flows," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Thursday, just before the conclusion of the winter meetings. "In that regard right now, it seems to be flowing.''
The Mets could have simply non-tendered Davis earlier this month after a rough 2013 season. He hit only seven homers and spent significant time in the minors. Through arbitration, Davis is due a projected $3.5 million, making him more expensive than his likely replacement, Lucas Duda.
But the Mets believed that Davis, 26, still has enough upside for them to retain control of him so they could shop him on the trade market.
With teams searching for power, the Mets hoped to capitalize on Davis' breakout 2012 season, when he finished with 32 homers.
Instead, they encountered a market filled with first basemen.
Of those believed to be available, only Kendrys Morales, Adam Lind and Davis have reached the 30-homer mark at least once. Of those three, Davis is the youngest and least costly option.
Signing Morales, a free agent, would require a team to forfeit a first-round draft pick as compensation. Lind still is owed a guaranteed $8 million from the Blue Jays.
The market also is believed to include the Mariners' Justin Smoak and the Rangers' Mitch Moreland. Both are projected to be owed less than $3 million through arbitration.