Mets Position Battles: First Base

Find out what young prospect could be challenging Lucas Duda for the starting first base job.

Presently there are two players looking at possibly playing their final seasons as members of the New York Metropolitans both first baseman Lucas Duda and reliever Jenrry Mejia.

Their uncertain future stems from two different reasons.  After being clearly misplaced as an outfielder for his first few seasons in New York, Duda settled in as the team's full-time first baseman in 2014.  Duda initially excelled with the full-time position in 2014 hitting 30 home runs and driving in 92 runs. However, in 2015 Duda was not as successful. His batting average fell below .250 again with an average of .244. Home runs and RBIs fell to 27 and 73. Strikeouts reached a career high with 138.

Yet, while his performance went down Duda’s salary has escalated from 4.3 million in 2015 to its current 6.7-million-dollar contract for 2016. With a salary that could approach 10 million in 2017 to remain a Met Duda will need to have his best season ever.

Also, similar to his first few seasons battling Ike Davis, a new challenger is on the horizon. Top Mets prospect Dominic Smith is gunning for Duda’s position as the Mets starting first baseman. Smith the No. 11 overall pick in the 2013 MLB June Amateur draft was the Florida State League’s (Single A) Most Valuable Player hitting .305 and driving in a league leading 79 RBIs. Defensively, Smith ranks with the best in baseball. MLB Pipeline released their Minor League All-Defensive team with Smith selected as the first baseman. With Smith set to start in 2016 in Double A Binghamton with a solid season he may possibly be in line to make it New York in 2017 which would make Duda expendable and open up much needed salary space for other players.

Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia also maybe facing his last season as a Met in 2016. Mejia has been with the Mets for what seems like forever yet he is still only 25 years old. Back in 2010 he was the Mets top pitching prospect as a 20-year-old rookie.  Mets manager Jerry Manual openly campaigned and won to keep Mejia on the team. Manual however was not up to the challenge of managing Mejia correctly and eventually Mejia got hurt. After a few lost seasons, Mejia like Duda also came into his own in 2014 leading the team with 28 saves as the teams closer. Sadly, Mejia was suspended not once but two times in 2015 severely damaging the players and team managements trust in him. He is currently suspended until this summer. With a tremendously deep and talented roster set for 2016 Mets Mejia will not only find it difficult to find a spot on the team when his suspension ends but if he does he will need to be virtually flawless to keep his spot.  

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