One of the last moves the St. Louis Cardinals have set out to make is finding a left handed bat for the bench. Lucas Duda fits that role perfectly.
At multiple points during the offseason, John Mozeliak has offered that one of the things on the Cardinals’ shopping list this offseason is a left handed bench bat. Now this move only makes sense if they trade Jedd Gyorko or Jose Martinez because simply adding another lefty would give them a six-man bench, something they won’t do.
Lucas Duda is a perfect lefty with some pop. Although Duda will be 33 by the time the 2019 season starts, his bat could be a difference maker for the Cardinals. Duda averages 27 homers a year while batting just .242. While a career .337 OBP is not horrible, he is definitely a power-first kind of hitter even though his career 24 percent K% is really not too bad for most power hitters.
Duda would definitely be better suited as a hitter against right handed pitchers as his career LHP/RHP OPS is .642/.839. This is exactly how the Cardinals would be using him. Duda would be a late game pinch hitter who would be in just to hit the ball hard. A career .727 OPS as a pinch hitter bodes well for his chances in those situations.In the field, at least at first base, Duda can hold his own with a career 10 DRS there, but the Cardinals wouldn’t be signing him for his defense.
As a player who made $3.5M in 2018, he wouldn’t be expensive to sign for one or two years, and again, as a veteran with postseason experience he would offer good leadership to the younger players on the Cardinals.
There haven’t been any reports as to what exactly what Duda is searching for as far as what role he would play, but in an article from last year in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Duda said that he welcomed a bench role with the Braves because they were contenders. With the Cardinals’ moves thus far, it would be hard to argue they aren’t contenders so it would be sensible to predict he would take a bench role in St. Louis.