In what should come as blatantly obvious news, the Mets will tender a contract to first baseman Lucas Duda, according to Jon Heyman. Duda missed the grand majority of the 2016 season after suffering a stress fracture in his back, and over the course of the long baseball season, some people who cover or root for the Mets wondered aloud whether Duda would be non-tendered after the season ended. The case for non-tendering Duda was always a weak one.
Assuming Heyman is correct, Duda shouldn’t cost the Mets much next season. Per the arbitration projections at MLB Trade Rumors, which have been very good over the years, Duda would earn $6.7 million next year. When he was on the field this year, he hit .229/.302/.412 with 7 home runs and a 91 wRC+ in 172 plate appearances. The home run total was in line with his production from the past two seasons, though his overall line was not.
But writing Duda off after one injury-shortened season would have been foolish, as he hit well above league average—with a total of 57 home runs—between the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The Mets would have been nuts to let him leave without getting anything in return—and without any obvious in-house option to play first base on an everyday basis at the major league level to start next season. Maybe Duda’s back injury wrecks his 2017 season as it did this year, but that risk is absolutely worth the reward when he’s set to earn well below market rate for his level of production.