With Ike Davis Trade, Mets Commit to Lucas Duda
The Mets have made their choice, and it’s Lucas Duda.
The organization’s trade of Ike Davis to familiar recent trade partners the Pirates on Friday (for a minor league pitcher and a player yet to be named) was only a matter of time in coming, and whether the Mets made the right decision isn’t one that’s abundantly clear yet.
At the same time, trading Davis and sticking with Duda is a defensible move by the Mets. Although Davis was both popular in the clubhouse and a hitter who still has the potential to break out with a 35-homerun season, his slumps were too deep, long and all-encompassing to offset Davis’ defensive value or his hot stretches, and his inability to hit left-handed pitching isn’t a characteristic that’s likely to change, given the mechanics of Ike’s many-moving-parts swing.
Duda, on the other hand, must become a more aggressive hitter to make the deal pay off. The big lefty’s passivity in two-strike situations as well as moments with runners in scoring position can be very frustrating, but Duda has big-time power (15 HR in each of the last two seasons, despite spending part of 2013 in Triple-A) and a compact swing that may, perhaps, lead to him having better success against left-handed pitching than Davis has. To this point, though, Duda is a .222 batter against lefties and .256 against righties.
Duda was always miscast as an outfielder. First base is where he’s always wanted to play, and now the position is his.
For the deal—and the signing of Curtis Granderson last winter—to look good for the Mets, they’ll need a combined 70 home runs out of Duda, David Wright and Granderson this season.