Lucas Duda has been through every level of the New York Mets organization since being drafted as a seventh-round pick in 2007. He’s been played out of position, demoted and put through the wringer by fans and media alike for being too passive at the plate and too slow-footed in the field. But he keeps coming back, much to everyone’s relief and/or anxiety.
Now, after three straight seasons playing 100 or more games for the Mets, Duda comes into Port St. Lucie involved in the most interesting position battle of Spring Training.
Since practically the first minute of the Mets’ offseason, GM Sandy Alderson stated his intention to trade either Duda or Ike Davis in order to clear room at first base. Who knows what Alderson was looking to get in return for the one of the Disappointing Duo, but a trade has not yet materialized and the Mets need one of these guys to step up and take hold of the starting first base job.
The loser is likely to begin the year in triple-A with the Binghamton Mets, his future with the big club in severe jeopardy. There are at least five good reasons for fans to root for either Duda or Davis, but this is going to come down to who wants it more.
Davis, even after two frustrating offensive years, is the incumbent and favorite to keep his job. Duda has been training all winter and says he’s shed as much as 10 pounds from his listed 6-foot-4, 255-pound frame. Will it make a difference?
Duda is a talented player for sure, but nowhere near Davis’ level. And while the Mets have positional options with Duda (manager Terry Collins has stated Duda will see some time in the crowded Mets’ outfield this spring), Davis can’t be moved to another position. Having both on the team is a distraction. Something has to give here.
I feel the best thing for Duda to do is play like an absolute beast for the next five weeks, show off that svelte new waistline, make Davis, Collins and Alderson sweat for a while … and then get himself traded to a team that knows what to do with his skill set.
At 28-years old, the time is now for Duda to make a name for himself in MLB or get comfy riding the bus from upstate New York to minor league purgatory.