NEW YORK -- The New York Mets had plenty of fill-in options for Lucas Duda at first base last season, including Daniel Murphy and Michael Cuddyer. With Murphy now with the Washington Nationals and Cuddyer retired, the options to cover first base on days off for Duda are far more limited.
In fact, Wilmer Flores -- who has never appeared at first base in the major leagues -- is the primary option to spell Duda against a difficult southpaw, or if Duda otherwise needs a day off, team officials reiterated Monday.
Flores made 20 career appearances (19 starts) at first base in the minors. Most recently, that included two starts at first base in 2014 with Triple-A Las Vegas.
With the addition of Asdrubal Cabrera to man shortstop and Neil Walker to man second base, Flores is going to be the super sub in the infield. He should see action at third base, since David Wright is forecast to play no more than 135 games. Flores should see action at shortstop, along with Ruben Tejada, in games Cabrera does not start. And given Walker's splits (.290 slugging percentage vs. LHP, .456 slugging percentage vs. RHP in 2015 with the Pittsburgh Pirates), it's plausible that Flores sees time at second base against southpaws.
At one point, the Mets were looking for a backup, righty-hitting outfielder who also could play first base to offset Cuddyer's retirement. But with Yoenis Cespedes' unexpected re-signing, that search is off.
Kevin Plawecki has seen limited action in the minors at first base. But if the Mets are only carrying two catchers, it's not practical to have both in the starting lineup with any regularity.