Mariners First Base Options: Lucas Duda

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13: Lucas Duda /

The Mariners have a hole at first base. While Yonder Alonso held down his side of the platoon to end the season, he and incumbent fellow platooner Danny Valencia are free agents. Who could replace them?

Lucas Duda, longtime New York Met and recent Tampa Bay Ray, could form one side of an effective platoon at first base for the Mariners. Despite a miserable 52 game stretch with the Rays after a mid-season trade last season, Duda managed 30 home runs and a use-able .818 OPS in 2017, despite hitting only .217 overall and .175 with the Rays to close out the year.

His 1.1 overall WAR and 116 OPS+ are above-average for first basemen, and if he sticks to hitting right-handed pitching from the left side of the plate, he could be useful for the Mariners and fairly cheap.

Duda signed a one-year, $7 million contract with New York before being traded to Tampa in 2017. I would expect a similar contract for 2018, possibly a little less. $7 mil sounds like a lot for a left-handed first baseman who hit only .227 against right-handed pitchers in 2017, but you’re not signing Duda to win a batting title.

More from Emerald City Swagger

Duda didn’t get a ton of hits last season, but when he did, he made them count. In addition to his 30 home runs, he also hit 28 doubles. 58 of Duda’s 92 hits last year were for extra bases. The Mariners already have Jean “hit machine” Segura atop their lineup, as well as swingers and on-base hopefuls like Ben Gamel and Mitch Haniger. Duda could be a useful piece in the lineup for a season or two.

Paired with Alonso, the first base platoon next season could improve next season with The Dude coming to town for less than 2017 breakout star and former Mariner Logan Morrison or even the steady Mitch Moreland.

Next: Mariners 1st Base Options: Mitch Moreland

The savings after signing Duda to hit against right-handed starters and Alonso to hit lefties would free up more money to assemble the pitchers’ “wolf pack” Jerry Dipoto seems to favor.