As of January 12, 2017, the New York Mets and first basemen, Lucas Duda have avoided arbitration by settling for $7.25 million. Immediately after this up-coming season, Duda will hit free agency. Not only is this season for him important in terms of the Mets, but also for the rest of the league.
After a few steady seasons to start his career, Duda burst into the spotlight in 2014 with 30 homers. Along with that, he ended the season with 92 RBIs and an .830 OPS; the Mets had reason to believe they had found themselves a true slugger. The following season, Duda again produced: 27 homers, 73 RBIs, and an .838 OPS.
Also, how can any Mets fan forget his stretch of hitting 8 homers in one week – the week that sparked the Mets’ run for the NL East title. In 2016, Duda suffered an injury that would cut his season way short at only 47 games. In those 47 games played, he struggled: his strikeout numbers were up (36) and he was hitting for a .229 batting average.
2017 will be Duda’s year to bounce back and prove that he is still the slugger of 2014 and 2015. A productive year could build up some hope that he will sign with the Mets come next offseason; however, I believe he will be auditioning for other teams around the league. This is because of the up-and-coming prospect, Dominic Smith who, entering last season, was the #51 prospect according to MLB.com
Last season in Double-A, the 21-year-old Smith posted a stat line of .302/.367/.457 along with 91 RBIs. It is also known that he can field his position very well. Of course, this was only Double-A, but in 2017, Smith should certainly be getting playing time in Vegas with the Triple-A ball club.
If Dominic Smith can produce in Triple-A, it’s a safe bet to imagine the Mets will see him as the future first basemen of the team. Duda is the ideal power bat envisioned when one thinks of a first basemen, but Smith is seeming to be more of a well-rounded ballplayer. During Duda’s free agency, there will be a number of teams looking for a big left-handed bat he can provide; it’s also worth noting that at the start of the 2018 season he will be 32, so he may very well have a decent amount of productive years left in him.
If he can put up some big numbers again this season, surely he will find a nice landing spot for next year.