With the deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to exchange salary figures fast approaching on January 13, I wanted to take a closer look at some of the key players among the nine Mets who have filed for the 2017 season.
Arbitration eligible pitchers include Jacob deGrom, Josh Edgin, Jeurys Familia, Matt Harvey, Addison Reed and Zack Wheeler. Hitters include Wilmer Flores, Travis d’Arnaud and the focus of this article, first baseman Lucas Duda.
One thing to keep in mind is that the Mets have one of the best track records on settling with their players in all of baseball. I double checked, and last year they settled with five of their nine players by January 15, so I expect that next week we’ll see a bunch of settlement agreements. As you know, the Mets have already settled with backup catcher Rene Rivera for $1.7 million dollars.
Lucas Duda was limited to just 47 games in 2016 due to a stress fracture in his lower back. He opted for rest instead of surgery and actually returned for a couple of games at the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be fully recovered by spring training.
While it may have been injury related, Duda was in the midst of the worst season of his before landing on the disabled list. His .302 on-base percentage and .714 OPS were both career lows.
Duda, 31, is entering his final year of arbitration and is a free agent at the end of the 2017 season. The Mets are hoping that he returns to the form that saw him blast 57 home runs and 60 doubles over the 2014-2015 seasons with an OPS north of .830. But whatever happens, most now see Duda as a place holder for first base prospect Dominic Smith. Odds are Duda will be wearing another uniform in 2018.
A best case scenario for the Mets would be seeing Duda club 30 homers this season with 90 RBIs and a .260/.340/.475 slash and avoiding the disabled list. If that happens and Dominic Smith produces as expected in Las Vegas, the Mets will give Duda a qualifying offer and gain a comp pick in next year’s draft. Everybody’s happy.
We have two different arbitration projections for Duda. Pace Law School has Duda at $7.315 million, while MLB Trade Rumors counters with $6.725 million. I’ll predict the Mets and Duda settle for an even $7.0 million.
Note: Yes, I’m kind of snowed in and bored out of my mind. So you’re getting bonus Saturday content from me. Enjoy it while it lasts. Hee hee…