NEW YORK -- Like the 124 instances that had come before it, Lucas Duda trotted around the bases after hitting a home run. This time, though, there existed the small possibility that it would be his last time doing so in a Mets uniform, the same one he has worn
NEW YORK -- Like the 124 instances that had come before it, Lucas Duda trotted around the bases after hitting a home run. This time, though, there existed the small possibility that it would be his last time doing so in a Mets uniform, the same one he has worn while hitting all of his Major League homers.
Duda, who passed Todd Hundley to stand alone in seventh place on the team's all-time home run list with No. 125 during the Mets' 3-2 win over the Cardinals at Citi Field on Thursday, has seen his name appear as a potential piece the Mets may move as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.
Although teammates Addison Reed and Jay Bruce are in higher demand and will likely yield a more fruitful return, Duda, who will become a free agent at the end of this season, can provide value for teams seeking a power-hitting first baseman, or he could serve as a designated hitter. Those rumors, however, rarely cross Duda's radar.
"It's basically just noise," Duda said. "Nothing's happened yet. I'm still a Met. You can't concern yourself with rumors or speculations. Come here ready to play every day, and have fun."
Duda finished the day 1-for-4, and he has three home runs and three doubles in his past seven games. Since the All-Star break, he is hitting .308 (8-for-26) with six RBIs. On the season, he has 17 home runs and 36 RBIs, despite missing roughly three weeks with a left elbow injury early in the year.
Instead of relying on pulling the ball, Mets manager Terry Collins said, he's seen a recent effort from Duda to go the other way.
"Any time Lucas uses the field to hit, he's so dangerous because he's got big power to all parts of the park," Collins said. "I think when Lucas stays in that [strike] zone, when he lets the ball get a little deeper, he's a much, much better hitter."
The Mets' first-baseman-in-waiting, Dominic Smith, entered Thursday hitting .334 with 13 home runs, 64 RBIs and a .899 OPS at Triple-A Las Vegas, and he is the Mets' No. 2 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com. Therefore, it's likely this will be Duda's last season with the Mets, whether he is traded or not at the Deadline. That means he is destined to occupy the No. 7 spot on the Mets' all-time home run leaders list for quite some time, with the odds of him catching Carlos Beltran at 149 being slim.
Even if Duda's run with the Mets lasts throughout the season, he said the remainder of 2017 will continue to be competitive for the Mets, although the team sits at seven games below .500 (43-50) after Thursday's win and remains on the fringe of contention.
"You're never out of it," Duda said. "We've got a deep lineup. Our pitching is coming around. Our defense is coming around. So it should be exciting."
Chris Bumbaca is a reporter for MLB.com baed in New York.