Washington Nationals: Lucas Duda solid target as insurance
By Ron Juckett
The Washington Nationals face a power shortage on their bench if they lose Adam Lind. Lucas Duda can fill that role at a cheaper price while exacting revenge.
Unless the Washington Nationals get a holiday surprise ad re-sign Adam Lind, they have a huge hole to fill on their bench.
Although Ryan Zimmerman’s health allowed him to mount an MVP candidacy, his injury problems lurk in the back of everyone’s mind. Enter Lucas Duda.
As with Lind, Duda is a first baseman who hits for power, but not average. Last year with the New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays, he slugged a career-high 30 home runs while striking out 135 times. His .217/.322/.496 slash line fails to impress until you see his slugging percentage.
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Not an elite number, .496 is fantastic for someone who comes to the plate hacking. His combined OPS of .818 translates into an OPS+ of 116. With the Mets, before their mini-fire sale last summer, his slugging percentage hit .532 with 17 homers.
Duda will not get the $7.25 million on the open market. But, he will do better than Lind’s entry-level veteran deal Washington grabbed him with for 2017. As with Lind, Duda has dabbled in left field. However, no one is handing him a Gold Glove.
Baseball front offices have drifted away from signing pure power hitters to fair-market deals.
Lind’s resurgence should get him a comfy job with an American League team as a designated hitter and utility first base/left fielder combo. He is a player who can provide a playoff punch.
Duda is not at Lind’s level. But, he can bring his playoff experience from the Mets to Washington while providing valuable insurance for Zimmerman and left field. Sure, to strikeout over 100 times playing full time, those numbers are not a hindrance in this era.
When you add his ability to hit 25-30 doubles with his home run power, his value increases. Duda walks enough to keep pitchers honest, roughly 60 times a season.
It is important for the Nats to have power on the bench. With Lind, Jayson Werth and Howie Kendrick updating their resumes, Duda has a place. However, with no guarantee of steady playing time, is this the best fit for him?
Washington can offer a carrot most teams cannot, playoff baseball. With former teammate Daniel Murphy and hitting coach Kevin Long, Duda can take a Lind-type deal and parlay that into a better deal for 2019 and beyond.
Starting next season at 32, Duda has productive years left in him. A move to Washington makes sense if his demands are reasonable.
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At least, the Seventh Line Army gets another reason to despise DC.