Mets and Lucas Duda avoid arbitration with one-year deal

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Masahiro Tanaka isn’t the only one getting rich today. Adam Rubin of ESPN reports that the Mets and first baseman/outfielder Lucas Duda have avoided arbitration with a one-year deal worth $1.6375 million. On Friday, Duda filed for $1.9 million while the Mets filed for $1.35 million, making the midpoint $150,000 less than what the two sides eventually settled upon.

Duda, soon to be 28, was eligible for arbitration for the first time and can become a free agent after the 2016 season. He finished 2013 with solid numbers despite a low batting average and playing half his games in a pitcher-friendly park, posting a .223/.352/.415 line. He missed 76 games between June 22 and August 25 with a strained left intercostal.

The Mets were expected to trade first baseman Ike Davis during the off-season, but ended up holding on to him and agreeing to a one-year, $3.5 million deal to avoid arbitration. Such a trade would have opened up first base for Duda. Now that the Mets have a full outfield, Duda projects to start the 2014 season on the bench.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.