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What can the Mets do with Lucas Duda? January 22, 2014

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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As MetsBlog reported the other day, Lucas Duda is likely to be an outfielder this year. (In fact, he’s listed there on the current Mets roster.) For a number of good reasons, this probably isn’t a great idea. MetsMerized pointed out that this is probably a flailing attempt to find a good home for Duda, so let’s consider a few options.

They appear to be considering leaving him in the outfield, but this isn’t a great idea. Curtis Granderson is probably going to play every day, with Eric Young, Juan Lagares, and Chris Young rounding out the outfield. Lagares and Chris Young each hit righty, but Eric Young is a switch hitter and Granderson is a lefty, so Duda’s left-handed bat doesn’t offer a huge upgrade. Duda’s OPS is much better versus right-handers than Lagares’ (.831 vs .620), so that might present a decent platoon split, but starting Duda against right-handers would put Duda’s significantly worse defense in the field. Duda isn’t comfortable in the outfield, and his numbers bear this out – Duda’s 2013 defensive WAR is -2.1, including his time at first base (his natural position), whereas Lagares’ is 3.5. Duda’s further time on-base is useful, but his defense is too rough to count on. Eric Young hovers around the 0 dWAR mark and has a .647 OPS mark, still representing a defensive upgrade.

The Mets will probably start Ike Davis, keeping Duda from his natural position. Though Davis has struggled offensively, he’s been defensively quite good.

Probably the best thing the Mets could do with Duda is to try to shop him around. Don’t get me wrong, I like Duda, but he’s best shipped off to a team that can use him as a platoon first baseman or DH. We don’t even need to get much for him in return – picking up a few young, cheap bullpen arms might be a viable option. I’m not an expert on the trade market this year, but someone can make more use of Duda than we can, even if arbitration finds him worth $1.9 million.