Ted S. Warren/Associated Press
Kendrys Morales is a switch-hitter and a much more reliable option than both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda.
While the Mets should have traded at least one of Davis or Duda this offseason (as discussed in the previous slide), they missed out on the opportunity to sign a better option than both of them.
I made the case earlier this offseason that neither player's future should be in New York. Regarding Davis, I wrote:
Davis has high power potential that makes him appealing to many fans and is what the Mets are trying to sell to other teams in order to get a valuable asset back. He has the potential to become a premier first baseman, but with the media pressure and his inconsistent play the past two seasons, it would be best for both the Mets and Davis if they parted ways.
As for Duda, I wrote that he also could potentially thrive in a smaller market:
Duda has big power as well but hasn’t been able to translate it into games. In the past three years, Duda has recorded more than 300 at-bats but has failed to hit more than 15 home runs. He does a great job of getting on base, but it doesn’t compensate for his lack of production in other areas of the game. With Duda’s passive personality, he also might have a better chance of thriving outside of New York.
Getting power production from first base will be essential to the Mets’ success in 2014, and while both Davis and Duda have the potential, it cannot be expected at this point based on their past performances.
The Mets should also have signed a first baseman because the options on the market were not only better than both Davis and Duda, but also not overly expensive.
Corey Hart missed all of 2013 with knee injuries, but prior to that was one of the most consistent hitters in baseball. He has never batted below .260 in a season and has the patience and power Sandy Alderson covets, exhibited by his .857 .OPS over his last three active seasons. While Hart would be a risky signing coming off of an injury-plagued season, he ended up signing with the Seattle Mariners for just one year and $6 million (with the ability to earn more with incentives).
Kendrys Morales could still be signed by the Mets and would be a drastic improvement over both Davis and Duda. Outside of a freak injury in 2010, Morales has been a powerful and consistent hitter at the plate. In 2009, he was one of the best hitters in baseball, sporting a .306/.355/.569 line with 34 home runs and 108 RBI.
Since coming back from injury he hasn’t reached his previous level of production, but has been consistent and better than both Davis and Duda. In 2012 with the Angels and 2013 with the Mariners he hit .273 and .277 respectively with 45 home runs combined, playing many of his games at the pitcher-friendly Safeco Field. He is also a switch-hitter, which would give the Mets more lineup flexibility as both Davis and Duda struggle mightily against left-handed pitching.
Morales is still a free agent, and while the Mets seem intent on using one of Davis or Duda this season at first, there is still a realistic situation in which the Mets could sign him. If both Davis and Duda struggle early this season (or whichever one of them is not traded) and the Mets are playing well, teams could also stay away from Morales because of the draft pick they would sacrifice by signing him. In this scenario, the Mets could sign Morales for a discount following the MLB draft in June.
The Mets missed out on the opportunity to improve at first base for the 2014 season, but, with Morales still available, the opportunity is there. While the best-case situation would be for Davis or Duda to grab the reigns of the starting first-base job, that is far from a certainty, and not improving at first base could kill any hopes the team had for the playoffs for 2014.
You can follow Sean on twitter at @S_CunninghamBR.