As the trade deadline draws uncomfortably close, the question looms whether or not the Mets will be buyers or sellers. Mets GM Sandy Alderson has been on record as saying the next ten games will decide the team’s fate. While there have been rumors abounding that link the Mets to trading veterans like Bartolo Colon and even All Star Daniel Murphy at one point, there is one player that could be an option as well.
That player is Lucas Duda. Duda has been in the league since his late call up in September 2010. He’s been repeatedly projected to be a 40+ home run type of player. His outfield skills were dreadful at best. It took trading a better defender in Ike Davis to open up a spot at first base for the poor defense/promising power of Duda.
Even with that, manager Terry Collins has little faith in him against lefties. With a .167 batting AVG in just 54 at bats, it’s easy to see why. He currently stands with a .259 AVG with 15 home runs. With one more homer, he will have his best season statistically speaking. He has yet to break the 15 home run plateau in any previous season.
That’s not the best thing to say about a hitter who had such projections of promise early on in his career. Still, the fact that he is at that point at this stage of the season does put him on pace for 25 or so this year. Any team eying a playoff spot would love that power potential.
With any trade option, there is a good side and a bad side. The same theory applies here. There are pros and cons to Lucas Duda being dealt in the next few days. First the cons.
It would be symbolically raising a white flag. It is rare when a team trades away their number five hitter, a power hitter, and still expects to make a serious playoff push. This team is no different. While the clubhouse could unify behind such an event and transform it into their collective war cry, it is far more likely that it be a deflating occurrence for team morale.
It would be a major loss of power in the everyday lineup. Not only would the team lose a potential 25 home runs and 80+ RBI, but it would have a deeper impact as well. It would directly effect Curtis Granderson, David Wright and anyone else that normally would be batting in front of him one day and not the next. Pitchers wouldn’t readily have reason to challenge them with less power on deck.
This brings us to the pros.
It would add talent to the already strong farm system. With players like Michael Fulmer, Wilmer Flores, Allan Dykstra, Brandon Nimmo, and Michael Conforto, among others, still in the minors and becoming household names among Mets fans, the farm system has become a strength of the organization.
Despite this, there are holes in the minors vacated from players like Mejia, Familia and deGrom experiencing success at the big league level. There is little chance they get sent back. Therefore, the high end minor league talent the Mets would receive in exchange for a player of Duda’s caliber would certainly be able to replenish the farm system.
It would give the team a chance to try other options. There have been a few players that have had mild, albeit brief, success at first base in recent history besides Duda. Eric Campbell, Josh Satin and even Daniel Murphy have spent some time there.
In fact, when factoring in Murphy’s defense at second base, a case could be made for calling up Wilmer Flores for that position and sliding Murphy over to first. They could even put Campbell there full time. It opens up more possibilities to utilize more of the talent the Mets have if Duda is gone.
It would give Duda an opportunity to flourish in a new environment. Of the 15 homer runs Duda has this season, nine of them are at Citi Field. This suggests that he is learning the park. With that said, how much more successful would he be in Yankee Stadium or another sandbox in the Majors? His power numbers could increase immensely just in time for a contract talks.
He could go to a team that has more player-friendly fans like St Louis, Pittsburgh or Kansas City. Where they don’t expect their players to reach potential and aren’t as demanding. He could experience a renaissance in his young career and take a massive step toward reaching his fullest. It wouldn’t be the first time a player needed a change of scenery.
With all that said, Lucas Duda has earned his stripes here in New York. If he stays, the fans would still cheer or boo accordingly. The media would still second guess him at every chance and the dugout would still have the big man with the big smile.
If, by some likelihood he goes, he’ll be missed like others before him, his performance will be followed from afar like others before him and he will be the ongoing topic of trade value debates for years to come, like others before him.