Question Of The Week 6 - The "Dude-illemma"


Good morning.

Bill Metsiac sent me a great question to ask all of this week -

Hi, Mack,
That's the name I give to a situation that the Mets may have to resolve and which I think it worth discussing at the site.  
Let's start with the hypothetical scenario in which at mid-year Duda is healthy and productive (say, around 15 HR and 45 RBI). Do they:
1) Trade him at max value and bring up Smith.
2) Keep him to the end of the season and let him walk.
3)Keep him and make a QO.
4) Negotiate an extension of 3 years and trade Smith?
No easy answers here, but should provide lively discussion.

Reese Kaplan says –

            The team has lived and died by the 3-run homer.  Earl Weaver would be proud of the current offensive approach.  Me, not so much! 

The best thing the Mets can do is to transition to steadier hitters who are not prone to the streaks and slumps (not to mention the myriad of Ks.)  Towards that end I think that whichever of Duda, Bruce or Granderson draws the most interest at mid season should be moved but not necessarily to rush to promote Dom Smith.  The club can play some combination of Bruce, Flores or T.J.  Rivera at 1B should Duda be the one to go. 

At year's end he's not worth a QO so the likelihood of retaining him is slim.  If you can parlay his value into something in July, then you have to do it. 

Jack Flynn says –

There are two scenarios that can be dismissed out of hand. First off, forget about bringing up Dominic Smith in 2017. Success in Double-A is a reason to believe that Smith may have a bright future, but there is absolutely no reason to move a productive major league player mid-season for a prospect with could easily bat .180/.240/.290 in his first trip to the big leagues. Second-division teams take risks like that - pennant contenders do not.

You can also forget about signing Duda to a three-year extension. A 31-year-old first baseman with a history of back problems and without a solid glove do not age well. Duda's offensive skills are already wrapped up in power and patience - those are not the type of players that typically age well anyway.
Sandy Alderson has six months to decide what to do with Duda, and the only decision he has to make is in regard to in the qualifying offer. Given the number of bat-first sluggers that languished on the free agent in the off-season and ultimately signed for less money than expected, it's hard to imagine a scenario in which paying Lucas Duda upwards of $18 million in 2018 makes any type of sense. Perhaps if he plays 150 games, hits 30 home runs and gives you a .270/.375/.500 slash line, a qualifying offer would be worth considering. Beyond that, it probably makes the most sense for this to be Duda's last season as a Met.

Christopher Soto says -  

     If Lucas Duda is having a Duda-esque season where he is pacing towards a .250 AVG with 30 HR and 85+ RBIs for the season…..You absolutely need to hold onto him for the remainder of the season. No matter how good of a prospect Dom Smith may be….those are still lofty numbers to attain. Now as for the question about whether to offer him a Qualifying offer or let him walk? That is a much tougher question. We need to consider A) what other 1B are free agents and B) the Qualifying Offer rules have changed effective this year. Teams who wish to sign QO players are now put into buckets…

A)     Bottom 15 Revenue teams (aka non-market disqualified Revenue Sharing Payee Clubs): Need to forfeit their 3rd highest selection in the Rule 4 Draft.

B)      Top 15 Revenue teams: Need to forfeit their 2nd highest selection in the Rule 4 Draft + $500,000 of International Signing Bonus Money.

C)      Competitive Balance Tax Violators (AKA the Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, etc.): Need to forfeit their 2nd + 5th highest selection in the Rule 4 Draft + $1,000,000 of International Signing Bonus Money.

On the receiving side….as a Top 15 Market….The Mets would receive a draft pick in between the 2nd and 3rd round for any Qualifying Offer player who signs elsewhere.

Other good 1B on the market are Eric Hosmer, Carlos Santana, Mike Napoli, and Mitch Moreland. It’s a relatively thin group with Hosmer and Santana clearly being the cream of the crop. That said the Indians and Royals are both already discussing extension contracts to keep them off the market leaving Duda to possibily be the top 1B available. If this were to happen……I would not hesitate to give Duda the qualifying offer and take a chance that he may accept. Either is declines and signs somewhere else netting us a Round 2B pick…or….he accepts and we trade him to a team in need of a 1B in exchange for a prospect.

Gary McDonald says -

This is a tough decision to make this early in the season. The future is in almost in each other’s hands. if Duda has a good year it may be worthwhile to give him a qualifying offer or even a three-year extension. Especially if Smith struggles at AAA, and doesn't have the type of year offensively, that everybody believes he will. In that case perhaps you keep both of them give Lucas Duda the extension, and have Smith repeat at Vegas. If they both struggle this year, then you have a real quandary.  Will have to see what happens but it couldn't hurt to try to sign Duda to an extension just to have a backup in case Smith falters at Vegas.

Bill Metsiac says –

           Unfortunately, Vegas is a poor evaluation tool. Ty Kelly and Soup were great there, and Thor wasn't. If Duda becomes a FA without a QO, or maybe even with one, I'd bet there are teams out there who'd gladly offer a Murphy-like deal, as long as he doesn't flop or get hurt between now and the end of this season.

Mike Maar says...

I'd definitely keep Duda assuming he attains those mid-season numbers.  This year is all-in for a title, so that includes keeping the regulars they have now who are productive to guard against any injusry - even if they to have an overabundance in several spots. 

Over the Winter, I'd absolutely extend Duda the QO -  if he has very marketable year-end numbers - with the thinking that he'll sign elsewhere for a multi-year deal and we'll get the draft pick.  Most of the reason for that is the expectation that Dom Smith will be ready to make the jump to MLB next year.  But I also feel 1B would be backed up very well by Wilmer Flores, who'd at least be able to be the RH compliment to Smith in a platoon, and in "worst" case (for Smith), take the job fulltime.  I think 1B is Flores' best option as a fulltime player.

Tom Brennan says -

I was sure, going into spring training, that this would be Dude's last Mets season, either midway through, or at season's end. After Dominic Smith's bad spring, I move Duda's retention back by the Mets after 2017 back to TBD.  If Duda ever wakes up, he still could be a 35 homer, .260 guy.  Just be more aggressive swinging at strikes early in counts.

Smith, on the other hand, needs to really rev it up in Vegas.  He was solid in Binghamton last year, but not "WOW".  Flores tore up Vegas at around the same age.  What would Smith REALLY give us if he were christened as the full time 1B in 2018?  Far to early to tell.  He is hitting 6 for 16 so far in Vegas (.375).  Hit .375 all year there, with pop, and make your case, Mr. Smith.
If not, Duda might be worth re-upping for 3 years.  If so, trade Smith, and maybe Alonzo is the Duda heir apparent.  Smith ought to garner fine prospects, so it is not unthinkable.

My wife's cousin watches all the Mets games, and hates Duda for failure in clutch, limited range, and being poor as a 1B on pick off throws.  So, he is flawed but might be worth keeping.

Or, maybe, Bryce Harper might want to join the Mets as a 1B?  One could dream.

Richard Herr

We all do it. We all say, "Would you trade this guy?" The verb in that sentence is "trade." That says something comes back. Who or what is it? A bag of balls? Mike Trout? But the real question is, how do we handle Lucas Duda's upcoming free agency. The begin with, Lucas carries with him what I'll call the Wilmer Flores Aura. Lucas has been with the club for a while. We knew him when he was just a sweet little kid. We're "comfortable" with Lucas. So it will be sad to see him go.

However we have to acknowledge that there is a very low level of need for power-only sluggers. (Which invites the question of why the Mets are holding on to so many of them.) As a matter of fact, there's a whole bunch of people like that just kinda hanging around. In 2016, there were 38 players who hit 30 home runs or more. If you go back a very short time to 2013, there were only 14! (Repeat parenthetical question about Mets.) 

We may be coming back to something that's not even mentioned in the question for this article. What is Lucas's batting average at the time of this proposed trade? OBP? I'm old fashioned; I believe in that batting average thing. I think it makes a great difference on a team that scores more runs with home runs than without. Then there's the question of handing the position over to Dom Smith. He hasn't exactly roared his way through the system as a can't-miss prospect. He's done OK, but I don't think we should clear the position for the heir apparent.

I think Lucas is still one of the 10 best first basemen in the majors. Let's hold off judgment for a little bit. (He just hit two home runs last night.)


Gary Seagren said...

Here's a question: God forbid we don't go to the WS do we then go QOer on Duda, Walker and Bruce for another run at it or go youth with Nimmo, Conforto, Smith, Rosario and Cecchini and with the boatload of cash saved (David help us out here and work something out with the ownership and move on in your life) and fill in with some quality free-agents... bullpen preferred.

Eddie Corona said...

Reese... Your so right... I wish there were 3 run HR's ...they are mostly Solos...

Jack I think the new rules makes the QO moot... there is not first round picks attached to them anymore so really its not even in the discussion...

Biggest debate is we cannot lose Walker,Duda,Grandy and Bruce In a single year and expect all that to be made up by Rosario, Cecchini, and Smith...
Rosario need to be here this year... So he can come in and not carry the burden of having to carry the load... Next year he would have his first year under his belt with these vets around him...
Smith could have a similar transition next year... But we do need some Veterans around to bear some of the weight so the kids can develop

Thomas Brennan said...

Cecchini deserves more respect...last 3 games, he's had 7 hits, 3 walks, and 6 RBI....and (shhh!) no errors to date.

Why can't he be our starting 2B next year...He will be a year more ready.

Smith hitting over .400 so far...we need to see how the season plays out to see how ready he is (or isn't).

bill metsiac said...

I still see an extension in the works for Walker, and Cabby moving to 3B when Amed is ready.

Dude's D is underrated. IMO he's at least average with the glove. Keith likes him, and that's good enough for me. As of now, I'm leaning towards the QO option, but any of the others could also work.

Gary Seagren said...

I don't know ...if we win the WS then cut em loose play the kids and save the $$$....if we don't win it then we have major bucks to play with to spend on either retaining someone or signing players in the open mkt. Lets face it teams almost never repeat so if we win let the kids play keep the payroll low an after the 18' season wouldn't Machado look great at third.

Mack Ade said...

Machado will be a Met next season.

bill metsiac said...


bill metsiac said...

After what Bruce has shown so far, we could be facing a similar decision with him. Could he be a candidate for re-signing?

Mack Ade said...

Bill -

I would consider resigning Bruce.

I don't consider Nimmo being a future starters. There is no one currently in Vegas that projects as a major league starter and the best OF prospect we have, Beccera, is 2-3 years away and still only is a DH hitter.

I like Lagares, but...

A starting 2018 outfield of Bruce, Yo, and Conforto has some interest in me

Thomas Brennan said...

Machado si, si, Senor!

Mack, happy to say that Wuilmer Becerra is hitting .417 with 3 doubles in St Lucie in 8 games. he started like that last year, hitting over .400 weeks into the season, then got hurt.

I am very interested in seeing what a healthy Becerra can do. Cautionary note: all games so far as a DH. Wonder when he is considered sound enough to play the OF again?

Don't count on Champ - he is 4 for 23 with (surprise!) 9 strikeouts. Three for 3 in steals, but you can't steal first.

Thomas Brennan said...

Neil Walker turns 32 before the season ends. I have to see what kind of year he puts up, to see if he or Cecchini would better serve this franchise as a starting 2B for the next few years.

Like Mack suggests about Machado (who is not a FA until 2019), if we do sign him, a dirt cheap 2B like Cecchini would help make that work.

bill metsiac said...

In the 2020 season, Bruce will be 33 on OD, Walker 34, Dude 34, and Cabrera 35.I wouldn't go beyond 3 years for any of them, but if healthy they should be still productive.

I wouldn't look to give all 3 new 3-year deals, but I wouldn't rule any of them out at this point.

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