Mets reportedly decide on Lucas Duda at first base ... for now

Andrew Burton

The Mets actually aren't in all that bad of shape at first base, but the way they've treated the position to begin the season would lead one to believe otherwise.

The New York Mets plan to give Lucas Duda a shot at earning the first base job on a full-time basis as soon as Friday, according to multiple reports.

The team entered the season with a revolving door of first basemen including Duda, Ike Davis and Josh Satin. All three made a start at the position in New York's season-opening series against the Nationals and are a combined 0-for-11 with a pair of walks.

Duda has had the most action thus far, drawing a walk in seven plate appearances. The Mets are sticking with him because of his plate patience, according to Jon Heyman, and plan to use Satin as a platoon partner. That could lead Davis, who the Mets aggressively shopped on the trade market during the offseason after he posted an OPS+ of 89 in 2013, in the dust.

Though he has only spent limited time there in his career, Duda has proven to be right around average at first base. The Mets could probably live with that going forward if he can hit as well as he did in 2013. Duda strikes out a lot, whiffing 102 times in only 384 plate appearances, but his 15 home runs and 55 walks led to a 118 OPS+. And, though he scuffled to a .239/.329/.389 line in 2012, Duda is only two years removed from hitting .292/.370/.482 in part-time duty during his first real exposure to the big leagues.

While those numbers seem perfectly acceptable, it appears the Mets don't fully trust Duda given their reluctance to make him the Opening Day starter. His ability to hit left-handed pitchers likely explains that to some degree; in 346 career plate appearances against southpaws, Duda owns a .223/.301/.340 line. Satin has hit them much better, posting a .309/.387/.457 in 106 plate appearances.

Satin has been a good defender at first in limited big-league time, suggesting this scenario could work for the Mets if they stick with it. However, it's not going to be a long-term solution; Duda is 28 and Satin is 29, and a platoon at first base doesn't seem to be the most efficient usage of roster spots.

There weren't a lot of options available at the position last offseason, but the team could have made a run at Cuban free-agent Jose Abreu and would likely be better set for the future than they are now. Instead, unless they try to make a trade to acquire a better option for the position during the season, they'll have to wait a few years for first base prospect Dominic Smith to reach the majors, since there are no real intriguing options hitting the free-agent market anytime soon.

Perhaps seeing how the Duda-and-Satin combo plays out will be more beneficial to the club than looking outside the organization, and it would help them fill other holes. And, since it's the Mets we're talking about, you know there are a bunch of those.

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