Rumor season is here and it has been circling around that the New York Yankees are discussing a deal involving first baseman Lucas Duda.
There have been only 16 transactions between the two New York teams since 1962 but number 17 may come this season, as a source from the Mets organization told ESNY that the New York Yankees and New York Mets have discussed a trade involving first baseman Lucas Duda.
This report does not mean that a deal is in the works, however, as the source also said: “complications exist.” He declined to disclose whether that was due to the Mets’ asking price or the crosstown rivalry, but it makes for an intriguing situation for both squads.
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The Yankees have employed 10 different first basemen including right-handed pitcher (!) Bryan Mitchell, recently DFA’d Chris Carter and the current placeholder, Ji-Man Choi. Greg Bird could miss the rest of the year thanks to an ankle injury and Tyler Austin landed back on the disabled list with a strained hamstring on June 29. All in all, there seems to be no answer in the near-future at a position in which the Yankees rank second-to-last in offensive production (-1.1 WAR).
Thus, the fit for Duda emerges.
In 59 games this season, the 31-year-old is slashing .249/.359/.548 with 14 home runs, 30 RBIs and an OPS of .908 — the 11th-highest among Major League first baseman with at least 230 plate appearances. Since June 18, Duda is 12-for-41 (.293) with an OPS of 1.018. He’d be a clear-cut improvement over any option that has taken the field for the Bombers this season.
As explained, though, a deal within state lines is no easy task. The last trade with the Yankees and Mets took place in 2014 when the latter sent the former Gonzalez Germen for cash. It was the first since Dec. 3, 2004, when the Mets sent Mike Stanton to the Yankees for Felix Heredia. A deal involving Duda will presumably be the biggest trade between the two teams since the Mets traded third baseman Robin Ventura to the Bronx for outfielder David Justice.
The other potential complexity could involve Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson’s asking price. It has been well-established that the Yankees want to hold on to prized prospects like Clint Frazier, Chance Adams, Gleyber Torres and more. Other mid-to-high-levels — like Albert Abreu, Drew Finley and Zack Littell, for example — shouldn’t be untouchable.
The designated hitter/first base market is a hot one this season, so a slight over-estimation of Duda’s talents could turn Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman away from making a deal with other New York squad. After all, it’s a rebuilding year and the noted “complication” could be significant pieces needed to pull this move off.
What also makes this intriguing is how it lines up with Jon Heyman from FanGrag Sports’ report of the Mets being “willing” to discuss a deal involving Duda on Thursday, June 29. Nothing has substantially developed except for some talks taking place, but it’s worth keeping an eye on as the July 31 trade deadline rapidly approaches.