The pros and cons of trading Lucas Duda

Lucas DudaAs 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.

19 comments for “The pros and cons of trading Lucas Duda

  1. Name
    July 24, 2014 at 9:55 am

    As a player who just moved into the upper echelon of hitters this year, his reputation likely hasn’t caught up with his stats, and is probably still being undervalued. He’s under contract through 2018, which is only 1 year before Harvey, and right now he should be his prime.

    However, there is very tiny market for a first basemen right now.
    Here’s the summary of all playoff contenders and their 1b situation

    Orioles-Very Unlikely, doubtful they give up on Chris Davis
    Yankees-Very Unlikely, they have Tex and already too many guys who need the DH.
    Toronto-No. Encarnacion.
    Detroit-No. Cabrera
    Cleveland-A good fit. Duda could either slide into DH or they could move Swisher into DH.
    Royals-No. Hosmer
    A’s-Possible. They have Moss at 1b, but could use Duda as a DH.
    Angels-No. Pujols and Cron.
    Seattle-Attractive fit. But, big question is if they want to give up on their other 500 1b/DH types (Montero, LoMo, Hart, Smoak)
    Washington and Atlanta-No, of course.
    Brewers-Also another attractive fit.
    Pittsburgh-Highly highly unlikely, because they just traded for Davis.
    Cardinals- No. Adams.
    Reds- No. Votto
    Giants- No. Morse/Belt.
    Dodgers- No. Gonzalez

    So the most logical option is the Brewers, with the A’s, Indians, and Mariners also as possibilities.

    With the Mets (hoping) to contend next year, people still questioning Duda’s ability, and no good internal replacements ready, it’s probably best to keep him for the foreseeable future.

    • July 24, 2014 at 11:18 am

      Good summary — I just have two thoughts to add:

      1. Seattle is probably not a likely destination due to their already too-lefty lineup.
      2. I think it would be amusing if Pittsburgh got him so their fans could hold endless Davis/Duda debates

    • Yazzy
      July 25, 2014 at 7:06 am

      You need to trade Duda in a combo package with Colon or Montero to get more major league ready shortstops or left fielders back. I send Montero along with a another prospect to be named later for Arismendy Alcantara from the Cubs. The Cubbies need pitching so Montero is the likely choice. I also really like Alen (ss) and switch hitter) Hansen from the Pirates straight up for Montero. I would package a deal of Murphy, Colon and Duda for a great outfield prospect that is near major league ready i.e., Joc Pedersen from the Dodgers or someone else with this kid’s potential. I’d bring up Allan Dykstra to play 1st if Duda is traded. He is hitting 280 in Vegas and he is a Duda clone with a better on base % than Lucas. 1st base in the future is not a problem for the Mets as they have Conforto and Smith with Conforto being ready somewhere around 2016, and Smith in 2018, baring injury. I would even have Wilmer Flores be our super sub and have him play 2b, 1b, 3b, and SS. He needs to be in the lineup on a consistent basis in order for him to hit well. Either Alcantara (he is a Jose Reyes type of player) or Henson will do well to fill our SS needs. So a package deal of Murphy, Duda, Gee or Colon is absolutely what the Mets need to do to make this team win more games inn 2015.

      • Name
        July 25, 2014 at 8:43 am

        Prospects for prospects trades don’t happen.

        I would package a deal of Murphy, Colon and Duda for a great outfield prospect that is near major league ready i.e., Joc Pedersen from the Dodgers or someone else with this kid’s potential”

        Not gonna happen. The Dodgers have no use for Murphy or Duda, and Colon would barely crack the rotation for them.

  2. LG
    July 24, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Barring a great haul from a desperate team, I don’t think it makes any sense to trade Duda. He’s been the Mets best hitter this year (138 OPS+) by a fairly significant margin and a team in need of offense shouldn’t be trading a guy like that away. And it’s not like he’s making a lot of money.

    And Duda’s D has been fine at 1b. He isn’t any worse than Ike was there. Ike hasn’t been good defensively in years. And after all the years of giving Ike a chance at 1b despite his lousy performance it’d be kinda funny to then trade away a 1b who is actually going well.

    As for the other options maybe Flores can show himself to be something at the MLB level (and 1b might be the position he is most suited for)…but I don’t think you trade Duda just on that hope. It would still probably leave the team with a major dearth of power even if Flores hits well. Satin isn’t the answer. And Campbell has done a nice job in his role so far…but I think it’s presumptuous to hand him the starting job.

  3. jeff posner
    July 24, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Editor’s Note – Post deleted for violating our Comment Policy.

  4. Metsense
    July 24, 2014 at 10:29 am

    On a team that can’t break .500 for the past 5.5 years, all possibilities should be explored to improve this team. If Duda gets traded, it should be for major league players, not prospects. The priority needs to be shifted from the minor league system to the major league team until a balanced franchise exists. Winning at the major league level will increase revenue. Winning at the minor league does not bring in revenue, but it still is important.
    Duda is the least of the problems on this team. He has a career 120 wRC+ and a .343 wOBA. His 2014 numbers are even better than his career numbers. Based upon these numbers, he is the 5th best first baseman in the NL during 2014. If the the Mets were the 5th best in the NL they would be a playoff team.
    I agree with Name that Duda is still being undervalued and it is best to keep him for the foreseeable future. None of your options are better than the current Duda at first base.

  5. jc
    July 24, 2014 at 10:37 am

    Keep Duda for now. Trade Murphy and a pitcher. Colon or Gee. You would get more for Gee. You can’t trade your only lefty starter in Niese.
    We need a power corner outfielder or a SS (a leadoff guy).

  6. Tom
    July 24, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    The thing is, Duda probably won’t exchange the Mets players who can contribute this year. And the only teams who’ll look to add him in the next week probably don’t want to give up those players. Pitching isn’t the problem for the Mets. Why is a team going to trade their SS or LF for Duda? And what would you really get back? Even if you did get something similar back, all you’re doing is switching a platoon of EY/Abreu/Nieuwenhuis/C.Young for Campbell/Flores/Satin. Whether or not Murphy slid over to 1B wouldn’t be much of a point because either him or Flores would be there. If Murphy became a 1B again, especially for an extended period of time, his value drops, so Flores would be the 1B. Can he regularly hit major league hitting? Even if he can, his power isn’t the same as Duda’s. Will he be at least equivalent to Duda defensively?

  7. Tom
    July 24, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Trading Murphy doesn’t make sense for the Mets right now if they see themselves as competitive this season. And even if they didn’t, but want to be competitive next season, it still doesn’t make sense. Flores is not proven enough to be trusted, good 2B’s are not easy to come back and Herrera is at least 2 years away and there is already a hole at SS they may intend on using him to fill.

  8. Tom
    July 24, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    The Mets should work within their excess talent to fill their holes. By excess talent, I mean the extra talent they have that won’t have a place on the roster next season. Colon is obviously the most logical guy for that and he may not be able to get them back anything. It’s either pay part of the rest of contract to get a decent prospect or hope someone picks him up on waivers. Without him, the 2015 rotation shapes up to be: Harvey/Niese/Gee/Wheeler/deGrom + Syndergaard/Montero. 7 SP’s can’t man 5 spots and by Opening Day next season, there is no reason for Noah or Montero to be in AAA anymore.

    Many people float the idea of moving them to the bullpen. But they aren’t looking at that issue close enough. The bullpen is very good. Even if they keep Mejia as the closer over Parnell (assuming his 2015 health), Parnell will be back because he’ll still only be ~4MM. The pen will be Mejia/Parnell/Familia at the back-end and Edgin, Black and Torres in the middle. If you put deGrom or Montero in the bullpen (which there will only be room for one if everyone is healthy), they’d be a long man, which would drop Montero’s trade value, as well deGrom’s whom has pitched very well and deserves to be a SP.

    Plus, they really aren’t needed in the bullpen. Re-signing Dice-K isn’t out of the question, Eveland has done well, Hefner could be a long man if he’s healthy, Leathersich is in the wings and one of Germen, Mazzoni, Thornton or Walters may have a strong spring. Even if the Mets wanted insurance to Harvey’s arm or Noah’s effectiveness, they’d have Hefner + Mazzoni/Verrett/Gorski on reserve, all of whom are now in AAA, plus at least one or two cheap minor league contracts they sign a vet too.

  9. Tom
    July 24, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Although it is a good reason, I don’t think Niese will be kept over Gee because he is a lefty. I see it happening because he’s signed affordable through the next 4 years, counting his team options, whereas Gee is only signed through 2. They’ve both had a similar, yet not extremely overwhelming amount of injuries, the last 2-3 years and they’ve both pitched equally well. We all know Harvey and Syndegaard are not going anywhere. The other trade candidates are Wheeler, deGrom and Montero. I just don’t think Wheeler will be traded given Sandy’s conservative approach (unless he is swept off his feet with a great trade and S. Castro may not be enough given his salary). Montero used to have a lot more value than deGrom. But now that deGrom has proven himself more, their values are close.

    So my logic is telling me Harvey/Niese/Wheeler/deGrom/Syndegaard, with Gee and Montero being traded. Going with both Syndegaard and Montero with no experienced alternative other than Hefner is too risky. The other excess talent we have is Plawecki (or d’Arnaud if they think Plawecki is ready and they use d’Arnaud for a big trade, i.e. Tulo). If d’Arnaud keeps hitting well through the end of the year, Plawecki probably gets moved. Whether it is all in one trade or in multiple trades, trading Gee, Montero and Plawecki for a SS and/or a LF with leaving no holes on the roster is very possible. All 3 of them plus one or two of a lesser valued prospect like Flores, Puello, den Dekker, Dykstra, Leathersich or Robles, may even be enough for Tulo.

  10. Frank
    July 24, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Something to keep in mind under Alderson’s regime, if the management deems the team as out of any race and makes them a seller almost anyone doing well is fair game to be traded. In addition, Duda would have more value as a DH which could increase his interest throughout the league among buyers.

  11. Chris F
    July 24, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    Niese has no trade value. He’s just returned from aDL stint for shoulder problems. Want to see a GM run as fast as EY Jr? Tell him you want to forfeit prospects for a starter with a history of shoulder problems on his pitching arm.

    Duda probably has limited NL value, and I suspect mostly as a DH in the AL. Underwhelming, but passable, at defense, he’s no Mex or Freeman etc. I ultimately keep him just to see if the trajectory rises through the rest of this year. Then he’s either a decent trade piece or the guy for us. Either way is fine.

    We need to keep in mind that the best days of Wright are definitely in the rear view mirror. Third base needs are part of the 2-3 year future.

    • Tom
      July 24, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      Niese has some value. Not at much as what the Mets want, but not as low as you’re making it sound. Same thing with Gee. These guys may net more value in the off-season though. As for Duda, I think your point if fair. But it is just a matter of a team being desperate. I don’t see that happening.

  12. Patrick Albanesius
    July 24, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Cleveland seems like a likely spot if you are going to trade Duda, because they are in the playoff hunt, but need pieces to get there. A trade of Duda, and perhaps Colon/Gee, along with a top notch prospect might be enough to land Lindor, since their starting 5 need help. That prospect would be key however, but it would be worth it. That would be a clear signal to Mets fans that this year is over though, and the 1B hole would be huge to fill. Andrew Brown also has time at 1B, just a thought.

    • Tom
      July 24, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      Brown at 1B is an interesting though. Dykstra really deserve the chance if a spot opens though, I believe. All he has done is hit, hit, hit. He’s 27. If they don’t give him a chance, he’ll end up eventually getting released a couple years from now like Lutz and play in Japan.

  13. blaiseda
    July 25, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    When was Duda ever projected to be a 40 home run guy? He’s having a year at the top end of what we thought he could have when he did so well in 2nd half of 2012. He’s going to hit .250 to .260 with .350 – .375 OBP and Slug .400 – to 425. That’s acceptable production from 1B and pretty wonderful production for someone whose not even arb eligible, yet. Having solved 1B, I don’t see the Mets trading him away, but rather focusing on LF and SS. They also likely want to see Lagares get on base more.

  14. Maury Drake
    July 25, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    Go with Campbell. Playing every day for Wright, he was hitting over .400 and can play 1B as well as just about any other position.

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