February 4, 2014

Mets Will Have An Open Competition For The First Base Role

A late night offering from the New York Post's Kevin Kernan suggests that Ike Davis and Lucas Duda will battle it out this spring to see who will leave spring training with the starting first base gig.

In reference to first base, Kernan quote team skipper Terry Collins as saying:

"We have jobs available... Its wide open."

That may be true, but different things the Mets have said would seem to indicate otherwise.  First and foremost, Ike Davis is set to earn $3.5 million dollars this season.  The Mets, the way they've been fiscally in recent years don't appear inclined to have the much money riding the pine.  Furthermore, Collins told Kernan that Ike Davis will get no fewer than 90 at bats this spring.  That's up nearly one third over the normal spring training work load.

What will they do with Duda when Davis is taking the majority of game reps at first base?  Well, if you believe recent reports, Duda could find his way to the outfield in a role that has seen him struggle mightily in past seasons.  There is no talk of a similar fall back plan for Davis.  Is the team willing to pay him $600K to just go away?

Lastly, there is the underlying fact that Lucas Duda still has an option remaining.  The Mets can have him start the year in Las Vegas without having to pass him through waivers.  If Davis ultimately fails, Duda can then be promoted to seize the everyday first baseman's role.  This is definitely an option, probably the most levelheaded one, for the Mets if they don't want to tie up a bench position and/or feel Duda should be playing everyday, on whatever level of the organization he ends up.

Collin's may say this is an open competition, but the facts of the situation dictate otherwise.  If Ike Davis is still on the team come opening day, barring an epically poor spring training I believe he will be the Mets first baseman when they break camp and head north.  Despite spending the winter looking to trade his services, Ike Davis remains the best option the Mets have.  The Mets know how bad he can be, but have also seen just how good he can be.  Which is the real Ike Davis? That's the question Collins hopes to answer early in 2014.

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