Change of plans: Lucas Duda to stay in majors for now

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UPDATE: It looks like Pedro Beato’s poor performance tonight saved Duda from a demotion. Beato gave up four runs over one-third of an inning in the 10th inning tonight against the Nationals, after which he was sent to the minors.

9:30 PM: The Mets need to clear a spot on their roster for top prospect right-hander Matt Harvey, who will make his major league debut Thursday against the Diamondbacks. Many speculated that the struggling Kirk Nieuwenhuis would be the odd-man out, but Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record hears that Lucas Duda will be demoted to Triple-A Buffalo.

Duda earned a shot at the starting right field job after hitting .292 with 10 homers and an .852 OPS in 100 games last season, but he has delivered a disappointing .241/.335/.391 batting line to go along with 12 home runs, 44 RBI and a .726 OPS across 355 plate appearances in 2012. He’s hitting just .140 (6-for-43) with one homer and 16 strikeouts this month. Making matters worse, he has been one of the worst defensive outfielders in the majors.

While the Mets try to get Duda back on track in the minors, they appear ready to give more playing time to the hot-hitting Jordany Valdespin. The 24-year-old entered tonight’s action batting .299/.330/.586 with six home runs, 20 RBI, four stolen bases and a .916 OPS over his first 92 plate appearances in the majors.

Report: Astros extend Justin Verlander for two years, $66 million

Justin Verlander
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The Astros are in agreement with right-hander Justin Verlander on a two-year, $66 million extension, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com was among those to report on Friday. With no money deferred, the $33 million he’ll receive over the next two years will set a record AAV for major-league pitchers; something MLB Network’s Jon Heyman says matters to Verlander, who “cares how his deals affect markets (and fellow players).”

While it’s far from the five-year, $100 million extension teammate Alex Bregman signed with the club on Friday, the deal will give the Astros a bigger window to consider their long-term plans for the ace before he hits free agency again. Prior to Saturday’s agreement, Verlander’s original contract — the hefty seven-year, $180 million arrangement he reached with the Tigers in 2013 — was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2019 season.

It’s difficult to overestimate the value Verlander has provided to the Astros since they acquired him from the Tigers back in 2017. He was named the 2017 ALCS MVP following seven shutout innings in a must-win Game 6 performance and helped the Astros clinch their first franchise World Series title. In 2018, he earned his seventh career All-Star distinction and received consideration for both AL Cy Young and MVP awards after pitching to a 16-9 record in 34 starts with a 2.52 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, 12.2 SO/9 (the product of a career-high 290 strikeouts), and 6.7 fWAR over 214 innings.

The deal has not been confirmed by the team.