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Who's on first? Comparing Duda, LoMo

Which slugging first baseman makes for better free-agent pickup?
MLB.com @MannyOnMLB

Logan Morrison and Lucas Duda are, in many ways, cut from the same cloth in this offseason's free-agent market. Both are left-handed-hitting sluggers who play first base. Morrison is listed at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds. Duda is listed at 6-foot-4, 255 pounds. Each hit 30 or more home runs in 2017. They both finished the season with the Tampa Bay Rays. But where will these two end up playing in the upcoming season, and which is the better investment?

There are only a handful of teams in the market for a first baseman or designated hitter, particularly after the Padres agreed to an eight-year contract with Eric Hosmer on Saturday night and the Red Sox reached a five-year deal with J.D. Martinez on Monday. On Saturday, the Rays struck a deal with the Angels to acquire first baseman C.J. Cron.

Logan Morrison and Lucas Duda are, in many ways, cut from the same cloth in this offseason's free-agent market. Both are left-handed-hitting sluggers who play first base. Morrison is listed at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds. Duda is listed at 6-foot-4, 255 pounds. Each hit 30 or more home runs in 2017. They both finished the season with the Tampa Bay Rays. But where will these two end up playing in the upcoming season, and which is the better investment?

There are only a handful of teams in the market for a first baseman or designated hitter, particularly after the Padres agreed to an eight-year contract with Eric Hosmer on Saturday night and the Red Sox reached a five-year deal with J.D. Martinez on Monday. On Saturday, the Rays struck a deal with the Angels to acquire first baseman C.J. Cron.

One possibility for Morrison could be the Royals, who failed to re-sign Hosmer; Morrison is a Kansas City native. The Rockies could also use an upgrade at first base, though they haven't reportedly shown interest in either Morrison or Duda. And the White Sox could be in the market for a DH upgrade.

Here's a breakdown of which player has the edge in five key categories: offense, defense, track record, versatility and upside.

Offense
Among free-agent first basemen this offseason, Duda ranked first in isolated power (.279) in 2017, and right behind him was Morrison (.270). Duda slugged a career-high-tying 30 homers in 423 at-bats, while Morrison belted a career-high 38 in 512 at-bats.

Video: TB@BAL: Duda crushes three-run shot for 30th homer

Per Statcast™, Morrison had a higher expected weighted on-base average last season at .365, compared to Duda's .351. But Duda hit the ball harder on average, and harder more often, than Morrison: Duda's average exit velocity was 90.2 mph to Morrison's 88.5 mph, and Duda's hard-hit rate of 42.8 percent edged Morrison's 42.1. However, Morrison barreled the ball more often than Duda, doing so in 7.8 percent of his plate appearances to Duda's 7.1.

With two hitters so similar in offensive production, it's tough to give one the edge over the other. But in this case, Morrison is a better fit for a team looking for a full-time player, given his .233/.342/.419 slash line against left-handed pitching in 2017. Duda struggled against southpaws, slashing .188/.252/.406. Morrison's .697 career OPS vs. lefties is also 38 points higher than Duda's.

Edge: Morrison

Video: BAL@TB: Morrison mashes a solo homer to right

Defense
Both Morrison and Duda are average defensive first basemen. Morrison's ultimate zone rating per 150 games last season was 2.0, whereas Duda's was -0.1. Morrison finished the 2017 season with one defensive runs saved, whereas Duda's DRS was -1. Though the difference is slight, Morrison was slightly better in the field.

Edge: Morrison

Track record
While Morrison and Duda had similar seasons in 2017, Duda has been more consistent throughout his career. Both players have spent eight seasons in the Majors. Duda has hit 25 or more homers three times, whereas Morrison eclipsed the 25-homer mark for the first time last season. Duda has also produced an OPS+ of 100 or better in five of the past seven seasons, compared to four of the past seven for Morrison. Duda's overall OPS+ over that span is 121, whereas Morrison's is 108.

Edge: Duda

Video: TB@BAL: Duda makes the over-the-shoulder grab

Versatility
Neither Morrison nor Duda has played a defensive position other than first base in several years, but both have outfield experience. Duda has more experience in terms of multiple outfield positions, having appeared in 123 games in right field over his career and 111 in left. Morrison has appeared in 243 games in left, but only 11 in right. Neither has played much outfield since 2013. As far as being a designated hitter, both have limited experience in that role: Morrison has been a DH in 50 games during his career, and Duda in 35 games.

Edge: Duda

Upside
With players as similar as Morrison and Duda, upside often comes down to age and durability. Entering his age-30 season, Morrison is two years younger than Duda and coming off a career year at the plate. Morrison has also been trending in the right direction at the plate over the past three seasons: Per Statcast™, his xwOBA has gone from .332 in 2015, to .340 in '16 and .365 last season. Meanwhile, Duda has trended down in that department, from .377 in 2015, to .362 in '16 and .351 last season.

Edge: Morrison

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

Lucas Duda, Logan Morrison