The 2016 New York Mets lost the most important game of the year in a loser goes home game at Citi Field on October 6th, but now the question regarding Lucas Duda returning next season remains.
Lucas Duda agreed to a one-year $6.725 million contract prior to this season and now finds himself in a familiar position as he is again arbitration-eligible. Duda was placed on the disabled list in late May with a stress fracture in his lower back and did not return until mid September. In his absence, James Loney held his own, but cannot provide the same power Duda is known for.
What’s interesting was seeing Duda off the roster in the one game wild card playoff game against the San Francisco Giants. Granted, Madison Bumgarner was on the hill, but including Eric Campbell, Ty Kelly, and Kevin Plawecki on the playoff roster and not Duda seemed strange.
Duda appeared healthy and despite going 0-4 in the final game of the regular season, the Mets could have used his power in a pinch hit situation. News of the possibility of Michael Conforto seeing time at first base in spring training brings up the question of whether or not Duda will return. Add in the possibility of Yoenis Cespedes opting out of his contract in search of a heftier deal and the possibility of Duda playing for another team in 2017 appears more likely. Then comes the likelihood of the Mets picking up Jay Bruce’s $13 million option for 2017.
Lucas Duda’s injury woes this season also comes to play in regards to the arbitration process. The Mets front office can surely work out a team friendly deal, but it will certainly cost them if they intend on holding onto players like Cespedes, Bruce, Neil Walker, Bartolo Colon, Loney and Rivera.
David Wright is another factor that could spell the end of Duda’s days in Flushing if he is moved to first base following Jose Reyes’ suitable play at third base this season. There is also a chance of the Mets turning to the free agent market in search of a first baseman. Someone like Mike Napoli who was paid $7 million by the Cleveland Indians could receive offers from the Mets front office.
The off-season for the New York Mets presents more questions than answers and with the pressure to win a championship certainly makes things interesting.