In 2014 Lucas Duda broke out as a premier power hitting left-handed bat. The move coincided with the Mets trading the man many wanted instead, Ike Davis. After said trade, which was mostly made in part to Lucas’ impressive exit velocity numbers which trumped those of former 32 homerun and 90 RBI producing Ike Davis, the first base job was handed over to Lucas Duda for the foreseeable future on April 18th, 2014.
In that 2014 campaign, the soft spoken centerpiece of many an Instagram post, Duda socked 30 home runs and drove in 90 RBI. During the ensuing spring training of 2015, the Mets approached their young slugger with a contract extension offer. According to Jon Heyman of CBS sports, the offer was a three year deal worth just under $30 million dollars. While we do not know the exact terms of the deal, it would have covered at least one year of Duda’s free agency, or possibly netting him guaranteed money through 2020.
After a strong season, Lucas chose to turn down the deal likely because he felt he could net a better offer later or more money when he hits free agency after 2017. After a strong 2015, Lucas earned a raise in arbitration for a salary of $6.7 Million for this season. Sadly, he was only able to appear in 39 games do to a stress fracture in his lumbar spine.
More bad news arrived Wednesday, when it was announced that his back locked up on him again, necessitating a month of rest. With the end of the minor league season in early September and an overall likelihood that his pain may not subside, Lucas Duda was all but shut down for the remainder of the season.
Duda is due arbitration for the final time this winter. It may behoove the Mets to non-tender him at the conclusion of the season and possibly bring him back at a cheaper rate than he would net in arbitration.
As was mentioned during Wednesday’s SNY broadcast, it may be wise to hand either Jay Bruce or Michael Conforto a first baseman’s glove this season to see if they can handle it. This would make cutting ties with Duda an easier choice, especially with Granderson, Conforto, Lagares, and Bruce already under contract for next year as well as Yoenis Cespedes pending his option.
No matter where Duda ends up next year, one thing is clear. Not accepting the contract extension cost him some serious coin. He walked away from as much as $20 million dollars. Which makes me recall some great advice, when you hit the lottery, take the lump sum.