Remember all the way back in 2014, when the Mets entered the season with three starting first base because Sandy Alderson could not make up his mind between Lucas Duda and Ike Davis (with Josh Satin briefly in the mix)? Alderson finally traded away Davis (and demoted Satin). This year, do not be surprised if Duda loses a similar battle.
This time around, Duda is the only starter. But Jay Bruce played his first exhibition game there Tuesday, and by his account it went fine, proclaiming, “Well, no one got hurt, so that’s a good sign.” A low bar, indeed.
In any case, the Mets outfield is crowded, and with Michael Conforto having a hot spring (batting .333), the Mets plan for him to start the season in the minors looks silly. They will have to find a way to get his bat in the lineup.
But the bats of Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson, not to mention their combined salaries of $28 million, also have to be in there. You can’t play four outfielders (Yoenis Cespedes obviously entrenched in left field), so first base is the only place to move one of them. Which is why Bruce is getting some work there.
It has been proven that Bruce is untradeable. But what about Lucas Duda? He has been playing well since getting cortisone injections in his hips earlier in camp. He is batting .316 with two home runs in seven games. And at $7.25 million, his salary is far more palatable than Bruce’s.
Neither Bruce nor Duda will likely be back with the Mets in 2018; Dominic Smith should be ready after a full season at Triple-A. It makes no sense to carry both of them on this team, especially because it means Conforto would likely be the man left out.
The Mets should just be done with Lucas Duda already. Yes, he is a power threat, but he has not shown the consistency to warrant getting playing time over superior players, which Bruce and Conforto certainly are.