Lucas Duda Rumors

NL East Notes: Duda, Wilpon, Gonzalez, Turner

The Mets and Lucas Duda intend to cut off extension negotiations when the season opens, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes. It remains to be seen whether anything gets done, of course, especially since the 29-year-old still has just one complete season of strong performance on his ledger. A league executive tells Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com that the comparables suggest a deal in the four-year, $30MM range could make sense, pointing to the cases of Allen Craig, Alex Gordon, and Billy Butler. In spite of his somewhat late start, Duda could have a higher earning capacity than that trio if he keeps hitting thirty-plus home runs.

  • One notable new feature of Mets camp has been the presence of owner Fred Wilpon, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes. Though Wilpon has not said much publicly, he has been fairly visible and active behind the scenes, says Martino, consistently conveying the message that he expects winning baseball.
  • Phillies righty Miguel Gonzalez looks like he may never pay off on the team’s investment, as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes, particularly since he has not managed to earn a job in spite of the team’s desperate need for arms. “He hasn’t pitched well enough to be a major league starter for us,” said GM Ruben Amaro Jr. “His stuff and his command just weren’t good enough. It’s kind of simple. He needs to be better for us to utilize him in our rotation. He’ll go down and pitch and hopefully he improves. If he doesn’t, then he doesn’t.” Amaro continued to acknowledge: “He hasn’t performed as well as we would have liked. He may never perform as well as we would have liked, but that’s the risk you take. Sometimes, you’ve got to take a risk.”
  • Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post takes a look in at Nationals shortstop-to-be Trea Turner, who is currently still with the Padres until he can formally be sent to D.C. The club had to check with the league to see if the deal could be structured that way, and pulled the trigger when it found it would be permitted. Washington had been intrigued with Turner in last year’s draft, says Svrluga, and a strong entry into the professional ranks has only raised his stock. For his part, as he waits to get introduced to a new organization, Turner says that his former team has “treated me just like one of their players.”

Mets, Lucas Duda Discussing Extension

The Mets are discussing an extension with Lucas Duda, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Duda himself characterizes the talks as “preliminary stuff,” and agent Dan Horwits confirms that there have been talks but says those talks will be put on hold beginning on Opening Day.

Duda will make $4.2MM in 2015 and will be eligible for arbitration two more times before becoming a free agent following the 2017 season. By that point, he will be heading into his age-32 season, and Sherman points out that it might be tough for a 32-year-old first baseman not known for his athleticism to land a big contract. So perhaps one possibility for Duda might be to sign a four- or five-year deal that would give the Mets an extra year or two of control in exchange for a significant guarantee.

Of course, if Duda doesn’t sign an extension, much of his future earning power will depend on whether he can continue hitting for power the way he did last season. 2014 was a breakout year for Duda, who rewarded the Mets’ faith in him by hitting 30 home runs in a full-time role while batting .253/.349/.481.


Players Avoiding Arbitration: Monday

As of Monday morning, 35 players had yet to come to an agreement with their team after exchanging arbitration figures (as can be seen in our Arb Tracker). We’ll keep track of the day’s minor settlements here, with all projections coming via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz

  • The Mets and Lucas Duda have avoided arb by settling on a one-year, $4.2MM contract, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Duda had filed at $4.7MM, while the Mets came in with a $3.75MM offer. Duda’s contract is just shy of the $4.225MM midpoint and his $4.3MM projection. The 28-year-old was arb-eligible for the second time this offseason after a breakout season in which he batted .253/.349/.481 with a career-best 30 home runs. He’ll be eligible twice more as a Super Two player.
  • Heyman also tweets that Brandon Belt and the Giants have settled on a $3.6MM salary for the 2015 season. Eligible for arbitration for the second time as a Super Two player this offseason, Belt received a fairly small $700K raise from last year’s $2.9MM salary after injuries limited him to just 61 games. When on the field, Belt batted .243/.306/.449 with a dozen homers in 235 plate appearances. He had filed at $4.5MM as the Giants filed at $3MM, making for a $3.75MM midpoint. While he settled a bit shy of that midpoint, he still did well to top his $3.4MM projection by $200K.


NL East Notes: Duda, Colon, Gonzalez, Stanton, Venters

Mets first baseman Lucas Duda may or may not fully blossom into a star, but his breakout year has at least forestalled any need for the club to go out and find a new first baseman, writes Mike Petriello of Fangraphs. Here’s more from the NL East:

  • Both the Angels and Royals have considered attempting to deal for Mets righty Bartolo Colon, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports (Twitter links). At present, however, neither possible suitor is in strong pursuit, with dollars being a major deterrent and the sides not necessarily seeing eye to eye on a return.
  • The Phillies will likely give Miguel Gonzalez a September call-up, writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Gonzalez has thrived recently in the upper minors in a relief role, but that transition away from the rotation means that Philadelphia will need to act quickly to reap any value from the 28-year-old’s three-year, $12MM pact.
  • Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton says that he is still not certain that he wants to commit to a long-term deal with Miami, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reports. While the club now features a fairly interesting, younger roster with some future promise, Stanton noted that “five months doesn’t change five years.”
  • The Braves have shut down reliever Jonny Venters after he came up with a sore elbow when he tried to increase his velocity, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Twitter. The southpaw, who had been attempting to return from his second Tommy John procedure, earned $1.625MM in his second year of arbitration eligibility (the same figure as his first) after missing all of 2013. A non-tender certainly appears to be a reasonably likely scenario after the year.

Sherman On Papelbon, Duda, Mariners

Here’s the latest hot stove news from four pieces by Joel Sherman of the New York Post…

  • Jonathan Papelbon has told the Phillies that he won’t waive his no-trade clause to go to a team that will use him as anything less than a full-time closer.  Between the lack of teams looking for closing help and Papelbon’s large remaining salary, this is yet another obstacle that would hamper the Phils’ ability to trade their stopper, though they’re reportedly willing to eat at least some of Papelbon’s salary in a trade.
  • The Rays were one of several teams who tried to obtain Lucas Duda from the Mets over the years, yet the Mets held onto the young slugger and are reaping the benefits of Duda’s breakout season.  Playing largely against right-handed pitching, Duda has 18 homers and a .259/.356/.500 slash line over 365 PA.
  • The Mets and Yankees both sorely need to add some power, Sherman opines.
  • The Rays had talent evaluators specifically watching Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker‘s start against the Mets last week.
  • The Mariners have been linked to David Price, though one scout doesn’t know why Seattle is looking to add pitching and not hitting.  “Their rotation can do damage in the playoffs, but I don’t know if that offense can get to the playoffs,” the scout told Sherman.  “If you are going to trade a prospect as good as Walker, don’t you have to get the bat you so desperately need?”  Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik, however, says it’s all about the caliber of talent available to be added to a team.  “If you consider David Price a [grade] A and the only thing available to you as a hitter is a C-plus hitter, you are better off with the A pitcher.  It really all depends what opportunity presents itself. What are you giving up to what are you getting back?“, Zduriencik says.
  • Speaking of Price, the Rays‘ recent hot streak has convinced one rival executive that the club will hold onto its star left-hander though the deadline.  Tampa can always re-open trade talks about Price in the offseason and in the meantime keep their ace and keep gunning for the top of the weakened AL East, the executive tells Sherman.

Mets Notes: Duda, Young, Abreu, Bullpen, Colon

Chris Young's tenure with the Mets isn't off to an ideal start, as the outfielder has already been placed on the disabled list with a quad injury sustained in the cold weather on Wednesday. Young called the situation a "bad dream" when talking with MLB.com's Anthony DiComo, who also spoke to manager Terry Collins about the $7.25MM man's early DL stint. More on the Amazin's as some teams wrap up their opening series…

  • Manager Terry Collins told reporters earlier today that the Mets will give one first baseman a chance to prove himself beginning tomorrow, and Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports that it will be Lucas Duda, not Ike Davis (Twitter links). Duda will be given a "real shot" to prove he can hold the job down, according to Martino.

Earlier Updates

  • Bobby Abreu's minor league deal with the Mets is worth $800K, and he can opt out if not on the Major League roster by April 30, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter). Abreu signed with the Mets after his release from the Phillies late last month.
  • The Mets' bullpen woes only increased today, as a variety of arms struggled once again in action against the Nationals. The focal point of that general concern, of course, is injured closer Bobby Parnell, who figures to be out for at least six weeks and possibly much longer. As Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes, replacing Parnell is a delicate balancing act. An outside addition is always possible, of course, but the options are limited. And while the team may well look to some young arms to bolster the MLB relief corps before long, it will need to be careful not to stunt the development of the team's key prospects.
  • Martino also examined Bartolo Colon's importance to the Mets, and in doing so revealed that the Mets were the only club to offer Colon a multi-year deal. The Mets knew they needed to overpay after five losing seasons, according to Martino, who adds that Tim Hudson was willing to pitch for the Mets earlier in the offseason prior to signing a two-year, $23MM deal with the Giants.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.


Quick Hits: Forbes, Castro, Mets, Luhnow

The average value of a Major League Baseball franchise is now $811MM, a rise of nine percent from 2013 that can be largely attributed to an increase in TV revenue, according to Forbes Magazine's Mike Ozanian.  For the 17th straight year, the Yankees (worth $2.5 billion) top Forbes' annual valuation of baseball's franchises.  The Dodgers ($2 billion), Red Sox ($1.5 billion), Cubs ($1.2 billion) and Giants ($1 billion) also hit the ten-figure mark, while the Rays had the lowest value at $485MM.  The Mets, Marlins and Astros were the only three franchises who saw their values drop from last year's Forbes rankings.

Here's some more news from around baseball…

  • Starlin Castro says he's open to moving from shortstop to accommodate star prospect Javier Baez, CSN Chicago's David Kaplan reports.  "If I need to move positions, I'm OK with that," Castro said.  "If he is on our team and him being there helps the team win, then I am fine with that. I just want our team to win. That's it."  There had been speculation that Baez would see time at second base at Triple-A this season in preparation for a position switch of his own, though Cubs manager Rick Renteria stated that Baez would play short in the minors.  Widely considered one of baseball's top prospects, Baez has a .903 OPS in 916 minor league PA and hit even better during the Cubs' Spring Training camp this year.
  • The Mets' inability to find a trade partner for Ike Davis last winter means that the club is now in the awkward situation of finding playing time for both Davis and Lucas Duda at first base, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes.  Neither left-handed slugger hits southpaws well, so while Josh Satin will start against lefties, Davis and Duda will have to divvy up the starts against right-handers.
  • Astros manager Bo Porter said today that the club's top waiver claim priority was keeping them from finalizing the rotation, and general manager Jeff Luhnow went into more detail with reporters (including Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle) about his team's examination of the waiver wire.  "I will tell you that these days we’re meeting every day at least once…probably twice, and we get input from the staff and do our research," Luhnow said.  “This is the time of year with clubs setting their 25-man roster in the next couple days that every other guy that’s out of options comes available, and we’re going to look at it seriously because it’s a way that we can fill the team.”
  • The Rangers, Athletics, Rockies, Angels and Diamondbacks all made notable moves this offseason that could prove to be mistakes within a few seasons or even in 2014, opines ESPN's Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required).  Colorado might've broken even in Bowden's eyes, though, since the Rockies are also on the good end of one of those "backfire" transactions.
  • When a number of scouts, managers and other baseball personnel were asked “Were there any young players you watched and said, ‘this guy has a chance to be a star?’” by Peter Gammons, the name most often cited was Carlos Correa.  The Astros shortstop headlines the top 10 list, though Cubs fans will be excited to know that Kris Bryant, Baez and Albert Almora all cracked the top seven.

Mets Notes: Davis, Duda, Tejada

Mets first baseman Ike Davis is playing in a regular spring training game today, ESPN New York's Adam Rubin tweets. Davis has been out of action, at least in Grapefruit League games, since early March due to a calf injury. His return could be significant, since he has long been a trade candidate. Two days ago, the Mets were reportedly making calls to assess interest in Davis, but it seemed unlikely they would trade him until he was ready to return from injury. The Pirates, who are in need of a left-handed first base option, potentially could be a trade partner. Here are more notes on the Mets.

  • The Mets still have to decide between Davis and Lucas Duda, and now have little time to do so, given the injuries to both players, Andy Martino of New York Daily News writes. Martino reports that the Mets are more likely to trade Davis than Duda, but are open to dealing either one.
  • Martino also says scouts believe Ruben Tejada could be a good player if removed from the New York market. "The way I look at Tejada, he could be OK, but he needs to get out of New York," says a scout. "A classic change-of-scenery guy." The Mets continue to watch the markets for Nick Franklin and Didi Gregorius (who would be available via trade) and Stephen Drew (via free agency), but are unlikely to play the prices required for any of those players.

Mets Resume Gauging Interest In Ike Davis

While it looked as if the Mets were comfortable heading into the season with both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda in tow, ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin reports that GM Sandy Alderson has resumed calling clubs to gauge interest in Davis.

Davis hasn't played in a Grapefruit League game in two weeks due to a calf injury and would presumably need to prove healthy for another club to take him on. Rubin adds that Davis is scheduled to DH in a minor league game today, though he hasn't been running after contact in that setting due to the leg injury. Also of note, Rubin adds that at least one American League team is showing interest in Lucas Duda, and the Mets aren't completely adverse to dealing him should the right offer present itself. 

The Pirates have long been linked to Davis and can't be thrilled with what they've seen from Andrew Lambo (2-for-31) or Chris McGuiness (.616 OPS) thus far in Spring Training. The Brewers were seen as a potential fit at one point, but they have many options in camp now and reportedly informed Mark Reynolds that he was a near certainty to make the club when he signed a minor league deal.

Many clubs in the AL have been seeking offensive upgrades — most notably the Orioles and Mariners (the two most oft-connected clubs to Kendrys Morales in recent weeks). However, Seattle has a great deal of first base/DH types on its roster and a lineup that leans too heavily to the left side of the plate as it is. Baltimore would make a bit more sense, but acquiring Duda would likely shift Nelson Cruz into full-time outfield duties, which the club did not appear to be planning on at the time of his signing.

The Astros were linked to a number of first basemen in a report earlier today, but it's unclear at this time if they've shown an interest in either of the Mets' strikeout-prone sluggers. The Rays reportedly proposed a one-for-one swap of Davis and Matt Joyce at one point this offseason but were turned down. They may not be so keen on that concept now with Davis' leg ailing and James Loney back in the fold on a three-year, $21MM deal.


Mets Avoid Arbitration With Lucas Duda

The Mets have avoided arbitration with Lucas Duda, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.6375MM, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). Duda is a client of the Beverly Hills Sports Council.

Duda and the Mets submitted arbitration figures last week, with Duda filing at $1.9MM and the club filing at $1.35MM. His $1.6375MM is slightly north of the midpoint between the two figures.

The soon-to-be 28-year-old slipped to a .223/.352/.415 batting line in 2013, in large part due to a decline in his BABIP that was prompted by a decreased line-drive rate. Duda still showed excellent plate discipline, walking at a 14.3 percent clip, and posted a strong .192 ISO. His 15 homers tied his 2012 mark as well. Despite persistent rumors to the contrary this offseason, it seems that the Mets will head to Spring Training with both Duda and Ike Davis on the roster. The two figure to once again compete for time at first base, but the outfield looks like less of an option for Duda after New York's winter additions of Curtis Granderson and Chris Young. He does have an option remaining (Davis does not), creating the possibility that Duda could be ticketed for Triple-A.