The Mets offense has taken a big blow, as it turns out that Lucas Duda's back injury is a stress fracture. How long will he be out? We don't have a specific timetable, but ...
"Probably a long period" until Duda is doing baseball activities again, TC said.— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) May 23, 2016
That doesn't sound like just a few weeks or even a month.
Duda, 30, is struggling this season to the tune of .231/.297/.431 but he's a big bat. He hit 30 homers two years ago and 27 last season. Despite the underwhelming slash line, he did already have seven home runs this season.
Eric Campbell, who is 29 and has never really hit MLB pitching well, seems the likely recipient of increased playing time, but he isn't a long-term option for the defending NL champs who have World Series aspirations and are in a tough NL East race.
What else could they do?
1. Move someone in from the outfield to first
You aren't moving in Yoenis Cespedes and wasting his cannon of an arm at first base, so it would have to be either Curtis Granderson or Michael Conforto with Juan Lagares getting everyday playing time in center.
Collins mentioned Conforto possibly taking grounders when discussing things with reporters on Monday, so he seems like the option to move if they decide to put this idea into practice.
If Conforto can adapt, this seems like a very good option. It would maximize the offense and actually help the defense due to Lagares being in there more often.
2. Trade for help
Even if Duda wasn't injured, the Mets offense could use some life. They rank 12th in the NL in runs, 11th in average and seventh in OPS.
James Loney is crushing the ball in Triple-A (Padres system) and would be cheap. That would be quite the uninspiring move, though, wouldn't it?
How about Jonathan Lucroy? He's played first base in 43 different games in his MLB career and could slide back behind the plate once Duda is better. Travis d'Arnaud is hurt and Kevin Plawecki still hasn't quite figured out MLB pitching, so this move helps create the flexibility to cover at two different problem areas.
Jay Bruce has played three games at first, so he's not totally off the table. Trevor Plouffe has some experience at first, too. Billy Butler could surely be had, but he hasn't been a productive hitter since 2013.
The best bet here is a confluence of the two options. The Mets will probably start working with Conforto at first while making calls to the non-contenders and start getting a glimpse of what the trade market might look like in a few weeks.