The New York Mets will be without their first baseman for a while. Marc Carig of New York Newsday reported that Lucas Duda has a stress fracture in his back.
Duda: stress fracture in his lower back
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) May 23, 2016
ESPN’s Adam Rubin quoted manager Terry Collins, saying that the injury will keep Duda out for at least 4-6 weeks, while Anthony DiComo of MLB.com provided a bit more context.
The diagnosis on Lucas Duda is a stress fracture in his lower back. There is no timetable for his return. "It will be a while." #Mets
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) May 23, 2016
Duda is definitely having a down year. He’s slashing at .231/.297/.431, down from last year’s .244/.352/.486 and from his career marks of .247/.343/.451. How much the struggles have to do with this injury remain to be seen.
Despite the struggles, Duda still has a respectable seven homers, which definitely alters the way that opponents pitch to him, and the people around him. Not having Duda in the lineup for more than a month will certainly be a hit to New York.
To replace him, Collins also noted that outfielder Michael Conforto will take some grounders at first base. If he moves in from the outfield to play first in Duda’s absence, it would likely make Juan Lagares a full-time outfielder. Lagares is a light-hitting outfielder, but he would give the Mets a strong defensive presence with Lagares in center and Yoenis Cespedes in left.
Unless the injury proves significantly more serious, a big trade would not seem likely. The free-agent market is rather bare. One potential option would be Justin Morneau, who played the last two years with the Colorado Rockies. He’s well past his prime but would serve as a decent left-handed replacement option who could hopefully catch fire in Duda’s absence.
Unless the Mets can pull the unlikely and land a starting first baseman for a relatively cheap price, the Conforto option is the far better option. Lagares is a good enough hitter to be a viable bottom-of-the-order option, especially given his defensive brilliance.